The serviceman who is known as “Marine A.” may have a chance to go free as a new review has led to doubts over his murder conviction for the killing of a Taliban captive in Afghanistan.
An independent review into the case has come across new evidence that may have a “real possibility” of getting the murder charge overturned in court. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) investigators claim that the new revelations into the case should reopen the ability for Royal Marine Alexander Blackman to appeal his conviction, The Telegraph reports.
The CCRC, which investigates miscarriages of justice, spent a year looking into the case in depth. They have said that there is sufficient reason to reopen the case because of new evidence which looks into the mental health of Sgt Blackman, who is currently serving a life sentence after being found guilty via a military court martial.
Lead CCRC commissioner David James Smith said: “After a thorough investigation we have concluded that there are new issues – principally relating to Sgt Blackman’s state of mind at the time of the shooting – which in our view raise a real possibility that an appeal against conviction would now succeed.”
The group also argues that the court martial, at the time, had no option to look at the possibility of a lesser charge of manslaughter because the mental health evidence was not available at the time.
Head of Sgt Blackman’s legal team, Jonathan Goldberg QC, called the review a “very significant” step toward justice for the Royal Marine and said that the legal team was working on steps to get Blackman out on bail before Christmas.
“Of course, we still have a long road ahead, but there are strong grounds for optimism that Sgt Blackman will have his murder conviction quashed. The odds have turned in our favour, as 73 percent of all such referrals by the CCRC succeed,” he said.
Sgt Blackman was convicted of murder back in a 2013 court martial after he had shot a Taliban prisoner who was dying. Helmet camera footage showed the Royal Marine quoting Shakespeare as he shot the Taliban fighter in the chest. The court martial sentenced him to life in prison in which he must serve at least eight years.
Last year over a thousand supporters of Sgt Blackman, many of them armed forces veterans, converged outside Parliament to protest his sentence and call for justice in the case. On the same date this year, protesters once again took to Parliament Square to demand the release of the Royal Marine.