Socialist Worker

Marine guilty of murder - but army let off lightly

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2379

Former soldiers opposed to war marched in central London last Sunday

Former soldiers opposed to war marched in central London last Sunday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A sergeant in the Royal Marines was convicted of murder last week after footage of him shooting an unarmed injured Afghan prisoner was shown in court.

It’s the first time a soldier has been convicted of murder in connection with the 12-year war and occupation in Afghanistan. 

Known in court as Marine A, he had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The murder took place in Helmand province in 2011. 

It was discovered because another soldier, Marine B, filmed it on an unofficial helmet camera that soldiers use to collect and show off trophies of war. 

The military court banned the release of the shocking video footage as the Ministry of Defence claim that it would become a “recruiting sergeant for extremists”. 

But it did release the transcript and audio.

In the video, three soldiers appear with an Afghan man injured in an attack from an apache helicopter. They found him in a field and dragged him bleeding, while abusing and kicking him. 

Marine A then shot the man saying, “There, shuffle off this mortal coil you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

Broke

He then said, “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.” Marine B replies, “Yeah, roger mate.”

Marine B and another soldier, C, were found not guilty and told they can return to normal duties. All the soldiers have been granted anonymity. 

The footage of the murder was discovered on a laptop that a civilian brought to a repair shop. It was turned over to the police because of unconnected material found on it. 

Brigadier Bill Dunham, the Deputy Commandant General of the Royal Marines, described the murder as “a truly shocking and appalling aberration”.

Yet the only unusual part of this case is that a soldier has been convicted because of clear evidence that couldn’t be ignored.

The army said these men had suffered the trauma of war and therefore the murder should be seen in this context. But the British army is part of a brutal imperialist occupation of Afghanistan.

Civilians have been killed in airstrikes on wedding parties and funerals. Prisoners have been tortured.

The military uses its boot camp training to dehumanise new soldiers and create cold blooded killers. 

It can’t be surprised when sometimes they occasionally go freelance on murder. This is what imperialist war looks like.


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