Royal Marine murder conviction: Alexander Blackman debate postponed

Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman Image copyright PA

A parliamentary debate on a former Royal Marine's murder conviction has been postponed at the request of his family.

Sgt Alexander Blackman, of Taunton, was found guilty of murder at a court martial in November 2013 for murdering an insurgent in Afghanistan.

His case was due to be debated by the Backbench Business Committee, following an online petition.

His wife Claire said postponing the debate was a "difficult decision".

The petition called for his immediate release and conviction to be quashed.

It was scheduled to be debated by MPs, having been put forward by Oliver Colvile MP, after it passed 100,000 signatures.

Previous appeal

Mrs Blackman said: "After a very useful exploratory meeting with a number of MPs, where we discussed Al's case at length, we all agreed that we should postpone the planned debate whilst I take further legal advice.

"I understand that postponement of the debate will be a disappointment to so many people who have supported Al through the e-petition.

"It was a difficult decision, but I hope that you will understand that it was necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for Al. I have been assured that a debate will be held as soon as it is pertinent to do so."

Mr Colvile said he had withdrawn the debate on the petition at the request of the Blackman family.

He added: "I absolutely believe that, as the petition has gained the requisite number of signatures, a debate on it should take place.

"However the family at the centre of this case must be the primary consideration, and they have asked me not to continue with it at this time. The debate will take place when they feel that it is appropriate."

Blackman has previously lost an appeal against his conviction, but the Court Martial Appeal Court in London decided to reduce the minimum term he must serve from 10 years to eight.

He must serve the minimum term before he can be considered for parole.

Camera footage

The murder on 15 September 2011 took place after a patrol base in Helmand province came under fire from two insurgents.

One of the attackers was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter sent to provide air support, and the marines found him in a field.

Footage from another marine's helmet-mounted camera showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

Blackman told him: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil."

He then told his comrades: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."

The court martial board in Bulford, Wiltshire, found Blackman guilty of murdering the insurgent. Two other marines were acquitted.

It was the first time a member of the British armed forces had faced a murder charge in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan, which began in 2001.

Blackman was also "dismissed with disgrace" from the Royal Marines. He had served with distinction for 15 years, including tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Blackman had denied murder, claiming he believed the victim was already dead and that he was taking his anger out on the corpse.

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