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1 in 3 believe marine who murdered an Afghan prisoner should not be in jail

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 09, 2013

By Alex Diaz

blackman

Sgt Alexander Blackman

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One in three people believe that a Royal Marine sentenced to life in prison for executing a Taliban fighter in cold blood should serve no jail time, a poll has found.

A total of 35% of respondents wanted Sgt Alexander Blackman to serve no jail sentence, 23% believed he should do five years, 20% were in favour of 10 years, while 22% thought he should be imprisoned for more than 10 years, the Mail on Sunday reported.

It comes as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed that 11 separate inquiries would be held into cases of Iraqis who died in British custody and as billionaire Tory peer Lord Ashcroft said he would bankroll a campaign to reduce Sgt Blackman's life sentence.

The online poll of 900 people conducted by Survation found that asked a more general question 39% of voters said they disagreed with Blackman’s 10-year minimum life sentence, while 37% were in favour.

Commenting on the poll, Sir Gerald Howarth, a former defence minister and current MP for army garrison town Aldershot, said he agreed the sentence was too harsh.

"The highest standard of discipline must be maintained in the armed forces and this man obviously committed an offence," Sir Gerald told the MoS. "But 10 years is too much. Five years would be more appropriate.2

Sir Gerald said that the court should have taken the marine’s “fine record” following several tours of duty into account when handing down his sentence.

Yesterday Lord Ashcroft, whose father was seriously injured in the D-Day landings of World War II, became the highest profile public figure to lend his support to the campaign in support of Sgt Blackman.

In a tweet he said: “If asked, I would contribute towards the legal costs of Sergeant Blackman’s appeal.”

But arguing in favour of Blackman’s punishment, former Lib Dem leader and ex-Royal Marine Lord Ashdown said he was content with the judge’s decision to follow the law.

An order banning the naming of Blackman, 39, was lifted by High Court judges after he was found guilty at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Former senior officers and MPs reacted against that decision, amid claims that he may need protection from Islamists in prison, the Sunday Telegraph said.

Lord West of Spithead, a former first lord of the Admiralty, told the newspaper: “This is a man who has put his life on the line many times. I am not sure due account has been taken of this.”

Blackman, a respected senior non-commissioned officer with 15 years’ experience, was convicted last month following a two-week court martial in which his two co-accused, known only as Marines B and C, were acquitted of murder.

He was also 2dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines.

The killing happened five months into an arduous six-month tour of Helmand province in 2011 with Plymouth-based 42 Commando, known as Operation Herrick 14.

Blackman, of Taunton, shot the Afghan, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

Calls for him to be treated more leniently came as the MoD announced that it had began to organise 11 “semi-inquests” into cases of death in British custody in Iraq following a ruling by the High Court.

An MoD spokesman said: “All serious allegations of mistreatment are investigated by the independent Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), who has the power to recommend prosecution where appropriate.

“We do not accept on current knowledge that it will be necessary to hold quasi-inquests into other cases that were not identified by the court.

“The department will be reviewing this position once IHAT has investigated the claims to see what further investigation needs to be undertaken to comply with Article 3.”

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3 comments

  • BrixhamDes  |  December 09 2013, 9:13PM

    Blackman ( he is no longer a serving Sgt) is a disgrace to his Country because of his behaviour, he should have got at least 20 years for such a cowardly act. We cannot allow people to break the "Geneva Convention" and get away with it because that would mean we are stooping to their level ( the enemy)and we should lead by example. Don't for one minute involve me as being a part of this Murder.

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  • lynda74  |  December 09 2013, 11:50AM

    Lord Ashdown your arrogant and pompus attitude is costing lives. Your quite happy to use soldiers as cannon fodder as was done to the Australian's in WW1. SGT Alexander Blackman is being used as a scape goat by this government and military hierarchy. The government sent this marine to fight a brutal dirty war in Afghanistan. But now, you accuse him of murder in which you trained him as a killer. SGT Blackman has done 6 tours of combat, doing exactly what you trained him to do. This soldier witnessed daily mutilations, soldiers bodies being, skinned and displayed in trees. Limbs blown off from IED's, treating every patrol as your last one, fearing grenades being lobed into the compound and living conditions undesirable. I wonder how may comrades he has witnessed being murdered. This soldier was suffering from combat stress and your seniors officers failed to pick this up. As far as I am concerned, you have failed in your duty of care. The deliberate and vindictiveness of naming and shaming the family was inexcusable. This was done in a deliberate and vindictive manner by military hierarchy and the 3 judges. It was also done for political reasons. You weren't satisfied with sentencing SGT Alexander Blackman to life in prison but you wanted the whole family to live in constant fear of a terrorist attacks. In your judiciary system, you are quite happy not naming paedaphiles, child sex offenders and serial killers. Yet, this was denied to SGT Alexander Blackman and his family. Now this decision has literally signed the families death warrant. This decision is a disgrace and I am ashamed and embarrassed how this government and military hierarchy has treated SGT Blackman. You should hang your head in shame and disgust.

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  • simonrtucker  |  December 09 2013, 10:36AM

    If he had killed an innocent civilian fair enough - but he didn't he finished off an enemy combatant who was already dying: you could call it a mercy killing - no matter how crass his on mic comments might have been. I am not in favour of our troops being there but as they are I whole-heartedly support their efforts to do their job and get home safe. How many tours has he done? How many friends and comrades has he seen killed or seriously wounded by these Taliban fighters who represent an ideology and an extremism that should be anathema to all except the most extreme religious bigots? He should not be in jail: he should be undergoing a psychological evaluation and helped to fit back into society.

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