W2W – Marine A
FORMER Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder in November last year.
He shot an injured Taliban insurgent during operations in Helmand Province in 2011.
Known as Marine A during his trial, Mr Blackman was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 10 years, reduced to eight on appeal.
The case was controversial, with some commentators believing he’d been made a scapegoat.
Personally, I’ve always had a sense of unease about the case, so, with Christmas approaching, I thought it high time I met him.
I first made contact with Mr Blackman’s wife, Claire, who approved of my visit.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was shown into a barely-furnished interview room.
A few moments later, a tall, broad-shouldered man, entered quietly, shook me by the hand and sat down.
For the next 90 minutes we talked.
And the more I listened to his story, the more concerned I became.
This is not the time or place to go into detail, but Mr Blackman’s account raised more questions than it answered.
What thing I was certain about: the man opposite me was no cold-blooded murderer.
Indeed, with 16 years exemplary service under his belt, which includes four tours of Iraq and two in Afghanistan, I saw a calm, level-headed and professional former Marine before me.
Mr Blackman admits that what he did was wrong, but it’s his case that the insurgent was dead when he shot him.
You cannot murder a dead man.
He fully accepts that, even then, he should not have acted as he did.
Mrs Blackman believes her husband has been made an example of and should be released because he’s no threat to society.
Many thousands of supporters agree with her.
For putting his life on the line for us, Mr Blackman has paid a heavy price.