The interesting case of the British soldier that opened fire

Blackman, Azaria
(from left) Azaria, Blackman

In 2011, Sergeant Alexander Blackman shot a terrorist who was lying on the ground wounded and helpless, and the British reaction to what happened is quite interesting.

This is the story of a soldier who killed in cold blood a terrorist who was lying on the ground wounded and helpless. This did not happen in Israel of 2016, but rather in Afghanistan in 2011, in the notorious Helmand Province. The soldier was Alexander Wayne Blackman, a sergeant in the British Royal Marines. His unit got into a firefight which also involved an Apache helicopter, hitting a Taliban militant whose name remains unknown.

Some soldiers kicked the wounded terrorist. Blackman ordered two soldiers from his unit to not give him first aid. Suddenly, Blackman drew his weapon and shot the terrorist in the chest, sending the wounded terrorist to the next world with a quote from Shakespeare: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***.” It wasn’t just another murder, this murder was poetic. He also added, “I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

None of the members in his unit report this. There were no British “B’Tselem” cameras in the area. The whole event was supposed to remain unknown, but fate decreed otherwise. The helmet camera of one of the team members documented every detail of the incident. The video fell into the hands of the civilian police by accident. An indictment for murder was filed against Blackman and some of his comrades in arms. In December 2013, he was convicted, as the judge criticized the public pressure and determined that it was “murder in cold blood.”

Blackman was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of ten years. An appeal was filed, and while the conviction remained, in May 2014 his sentence was reduced to a minimum of eight years.

There was no argument over the facts. The video revealed the full picture, including that Blackman was aware that he was violating the provisions of the Geneva Convention. In fact, he was the first British soldier convicted for murder on the battlefield since World War II. There were other war crimes indictments, but the British legal system somehow always knew how to find extenuating circumstances. Blackman’s story ended differently.

The conviction intensified the protests. British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, ordered soldiers not to attend demonstrations in solidarity with Blackman, because these were “political” demonstrations. Fallon’s order was ignored as thousands rallied, including 700 members of the Marines, both on active duty and in the reserves. Many of the demonstrators were in uniform. 804,000 GBP were collected in a short time by readers of the Daily Mail, to help pay the convicted soldier’s legal fees.

 This article has been republished with permission by Click here to continue reading.

Back to Top