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article imageOp-Ed: No leniency for Marine A convicted of killing injured insurgent?

By Eileen Kersey     Nov 11, 2013 in Crime
London - The trial of a British military marine accused of killing an injured insurgent ended late last week. The man was found guilty and is awaiting sentence. Two other soldiers in the Dock were found not guilty. Should this man be shown leniency?
It was an uncomfortable trial for many reasons. It opened the mind to many questions especially has this happened before and, if so, how many times. In this case the man's actions and words were caught on his helmet camera. Even so the footage was open to interpretation.
The two co-accused claimed they believed the talk of killing the injured insurgent in Afghanistan was bravado and empty words. When Marine A (as yet unnamed) killed the injured man the others were allegedly shocked.
Insurgents break the rules all the time. In fact they have no rules. These three soldiers were fighting in a tough part of Afghanistan and had come across body parts of their former colleagues hanging from trees and the like. The men and women fighting in the army encounter horrors sometimes daily, other times occasionally. It is never easy though.
However, we should not forget that a man is dead and the Geneva Convention broken.
Saturday an ex-General urged leniency in this case and offered a raft of excuses. Claims that Marine A was battle hardened mean nothing he says. The more tours of duty experienced the harder it gets. Whilst his reasoning is understandable an unnamed man was unlawfully killed in 2011.
The problem is setting precedents.
Monday The Scotsman reports:
The armed forces should not ask for leniency in the case of a Royal Marine who murdered an injured Afghan insurgent, the Chief of Defence Staff said yesterday.
General Sir Nick Houghton said the murder in 2011 in Helmand province was a “heinous crime” and service personnel were not above the law.
Whilst it is wrong to make an example of a person, what message would a lenient approach send out? That others can do the same? That the UK does not abide by the Geneva Convention, or only when it suits? This sends out a clear signal to any future enemies that anything goes.
The Geneva Convention is old but it is tried and tested. Perhaps it needs modernising.
Simply choosing to bend the letter of the Convention when it suits is not appropriate and, in the long run, it endangers the lives of our military more than ever.
Sometimes we have rogue soldiers; we need to accept that and address the issue.
The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. Maj Gen Julian Thompson, who led 3 Commando Brigade during the Falklands War, said a five-year or 10-year term would be more appropriate than life.
He condemns the man's actions but offers excuses, as does military commentator Colonel Mike Dewar.
Sunday the Mirror reported:
Philip Hammond, who is currently visiting Helmand Province, said no one on deployment in Afghanistan has called for clemency and all believe the murder was against the values of both Britain and the armed forces
Do you agree?
Consider the soldiers may be battle weary and have lost buddies and commanders in brutal circumstances but we either have a Geneva Convention or we do not.
A minimum jail term will be set December 6.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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