UK: Behind the release of former soldier and war criminal Alexander Blackman


UK: Behind the release of former soldier and war criminal Alexander Blackman

Margot Miller

4 May 2017

Former soldier Alexander Blackman, jailed in 2013 for the murder of an injured Afghan Taliban prisoner of war, emerged from prison last Friday having served just three and a half years of an original 10-year sentence.

A seasoned soldier in the Royal Marines—he had performed six tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan—Blackman admitted to breaking the Geneva Conventions and was filmed by another soldier as he committed the crime.

Nevertheless, in March, five senior judges at London’s Court Martial Appeal Court downgraded the original finding from murder to manslaughter, accepting a plea of diminished responsibility.

The entire media—led by its most right-wing sections—have dealt with the case on the supposed basis of Blackman’s mindset and mental health. His war crime, for which he should have served the full prison term, was ultimately the product of much bigger war crimes: the illegal invasion and wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, whose main perpetrators, former US President George W. Bush and former UK prime minister Tony Blair, have never been called to account. These wars resulted in over a million deaths, and brought about an unprecedented refugee crisis.

The killing, which took place in 2011, was captured on the helmet video camera of one of Blackman’s regiment, and was discovered by chance a year later by military intelligence. Blackman was involved in an operation searching for the Taliban fighter, who had been shot by an Apache helicopter.

The victim is seen being mocked and verbally abused, then as the Apache moved on and had no visuals of the ground, he was shot in the chest by Blackman at close range as he lay convulsing.

The video evidence…

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