War and Justice: The Case of Marine A true story – where is Alexander Blackman now?
Channel 4's upcoming documentary looks at the conviction of Alexander Blackman – known as Marine A – for shooting an injured Afghan insurgent whilst serving in the Marines in 2011.
Airing on Channel 4 this Sunday is War and Justice: The Case of Marine A – a documentary special looking at Alexander Blackman, the first British soldier to be convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield since World War II.
Known as Marine A before an anonymity order was lifted, Blackman was originally sentenced to life in prison after killing an injured Afghan insurgent in 2011, which was recorded by a fellow Marine's helmet camera.
The upcoming documentary features never-before-seen footage and an interview with Blackman himself, detailing "one of the most controversial events in the 20-year war on terror".
But who is Alexander Blackman – Marine A – and where is he now? Here's everything you need to know.
Who was Marine A – Alexander Blackman?
Alexander Blackman, who was previously only identified as Marine A, was the first British soldier to be convicted of murder on a foreign battlefield since World War II.
In September 2011, whilst serving with the Royal Marines during the War in Afghanistan, Blackman shot a wounded Taliban fighter in the Helmand Province.
Blackman and his team had found the insurgent when sent to examine in an area targeted by an Apache helicopter. The wounded insurgent was armed with a "high explosive grenade" and "an AK47" however according to a court document, "he was no threat to anyone".
The insurgent was then dragged across a field and shot by Blackman at close range in the chest, with him saying the words: "Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c**t. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."
According to BBC News, he then added: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."
The incident was filmed on a fellow marine's helmet-mounted camera and in October 2012, Blackman and four other marines (named Marines B-E) were charged with the murder of the Afghan insurgent after the footage came to light.
Whilst the charges against Marines D and E were dropped, Marines A (Blackman), B and C pleaded not guilty and in October 2012, an interim order prohibiting the identification of all five Marines was made on the grounds that there was "a real and immediate risk to their lives".
In November 2013, the Board of the Court Martial found Marine A guilty of murder but acquitted Marines B and C.
"Having removed his AK47, magazines and a grenade, [Marine A] caused him to be moved to a place where [Marine A] wanted to be out of sight of your operational Headquarters at Shazad so that, to quote what [Marine A] said: 'PGSS can't see what we're doing to him,'" the Board's findings said.
"[Marine A] intended to kill him and that shot certainly hastened his death. He then told his patrol they were not to say anything about what had just happened and [he] acknowledged what [he] had done by saying that [he] had just broken the Geneva Convention. The tone and calmness of [his] voice as [he] commented after [he] had shot him were matter of fact and in that respect they were chilling."
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In December of that year, the High Court lifted the anonymity order that prevented Blackman from being identified, with Blackman being sentenced to life in prison.
The other Marines were acquitted and returned to their units to continue serving in the Royal Marines.
In May 2014, the Court Martial Appeal Court upheld Blackman's life sentence but reduced his minimum term to 10 years. This was due to Blackman having "an outstanding service record" and "the effects on him from the nature of the conflict in Afghanistan" the most serious of which being "stress", according to the judgment.
Where is Alexander Blackman now?
In March 2017, the Court Martial Appeal Court reduced Blackman's conviction to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, with it being revealed at the hearing that Blackman had a "recognised mental illness" at the time of the shooting, BBC News reported.
In the ruling, the judges states that Blackman had suffered from "quite exceptional stressors" and that it was "clear that a consequence was that he had developed a hatred for the Taliban and a desire for revenge". They added that the stressors and his adjustment disorder were factors in "substantially" impairing his ability to form rational judgement.
This reduced Blackman's sentence and being given credit for time served already, he was released from prison on 28th April 2017.
In 2019, Blackman appeared on shows like Good Morning Britain and Lorraine to talk about his story, saying that he was working for a veteran support company before funding ran out.
He also wrote an autobiography that year titled Marine A: The Truth about the Murder Conviction.
Blackman is set to appear in War and Justice: The Case of Marine A in a rare interview, Channel 4 has revealed.
Marine A airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on Sunday 31st July. Read more of our Documentary coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what else is on.
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