Five Royal Marines charged with murder

 

Five Royal Marines have been charged with murdering a Taliban fighter in one of the most lawless regions of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence announced the charges today as military police continued to investigate the death of the “insurgent” in Helmand Province last year.

Royal Military Police arrested seven Marines on Thursday and two more on Friday and Saturday over what has been described as “an engagement with an insurgent”, which did not involve any civilians.

The arrests followed the discovery of what the Independent revealed on Friday to have been footage showing a group of Marines in discussion about whether to provide medical aid to an injured Afghan lying on the ground. The material had been found on a laptop during a separate investigation into pornographic material.

Four of the men have been released without charge pending further inquiries, while the others have been remanded in custody where they are likely to remain until being tried at a military court in the UK.

All the arrested men were with 42 Commando Royal Marines. At the time of the insurgent's death, they had been part of 3 Commando Brigade's fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.

They were taking part in Operation Herrick 14, in the districts of Nahr-e-Seraj and Nad-e-Ali. Under Brigadier Ed Davis, the operation had some notable successes but seven Marines - all from 42 Commando - were killed in action.

Rules of engagement, based on the Geneva Convention, dictate the circumstances under which British forces are allowed to open fire on the Taliban.

The arrests are thought to be the first time any UK service personnel in Afghanistan have been charged with murder.

In a brief statement, the MoD said: “The RMP has referred the cases of the remaining five Royal Marines to the independent Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA). Following direction from the SPA these marines have now been charged with murder and they remain in custody pending court proceedings.”

The Ministry of Defence said the court martial would be overseen by a civilian judge advocate and determined by a panel of between three and eight Armed Forces officers. The MoD said sentences in military courts for murder were similar to those in civilian courts.

Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for the Defence, said he was determined that the rules of engagement were followed in Afghanistan, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: “Everybody serving in theatre knows the rules of engagement, they carry cards in their uniforms with the rules on them in case they should need to remind themselves.”

Saying he could not comment on the specific case, he added: “We are very determined that rules of engagement will be followed, that any abuse will be dealt with through the normal processes of service justice and that is happening now.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence