The case for freeing Sgt Alexander Blackman

Mick Gradwell

Mick Gradwell

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Marine sergeant Alexander Blackman is in prison serving life imprisonment for murdering an enemy of the state in a theatre of war in 2011.

He will have to serve at least eight years in prison before he can be considered for release and a growing number of people consider this to be a miscarriage of justice.

I fully support this campaign to free Sgt Blackman, although I don’t think he is an entirely innocent man. His defence team at his trial should have argued that this was a case of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility.

Whilst, the evidence does indicate that Sgt Blackman shot the fatally wounded insurgent when he was still alive, the wound caused by that shooting had no impact on whether this person would have survived.

This is not an incident that occurred in a public street in the UK, it took place in a war zone.

Sgt Blackman, although trained by HM Forces to be a killer and operate with discipline in battle, is not super human.

It is reasonable to expect that someone who has seen the results of colleagues and friends being blown up and tortured by an enemy, will be suffering from stress and mental health issues.

The adrenaline would have been flowing due to the fact he had been under enemy fire and perhaps a red mist had unprofessionally descended.

There are many legal arguments that can be made if he is granted a re-trial.

Although it has no legal basis, there is also a fairness issue.

How can it be right, in comparison, that two drunken thugs convicted of killing an off-duty police officer in Liverpool last Christmas will be back on the streets in just over three years?

Apart from having one too many drinks, they have no excuse for the level of violence they inflicted on their victim. Similarly, the Prime Minister David Cameron recently authorised the use of a drone strike to kill a UK jihadist Reyaad Khan, in Syria.

Mr Cameron calls it an act of ‘self defence’ even though there was no immediate threat to life.

So the state can kill someone when they want but a soldier will face the full wrath of the law if they err in the heat of battle?

Sgt Blackman has been disgraced and punished, it is now time for common sense to prevail and he should be released.