LONDON (AP) — Lawyers for a British Royal Marine commando on Tuesday asked a court to overturn his murder conviction for killing a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, arguing that mental health problems mean he wasn’t fully responsible for his actions.
Sgt. Alexander Blackman was sentenced to a minimum of 10 years by a military court in 2013 for the September 2011 killing in Helmand Province.
Footage from another marine’s helmet camera showed Blackman shooting the militant in the chest at close range, then saying: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
Last year, a review commission granted Blackman an appeal, citing new evidence about his mental health.
Blackman’s lawyer, Jonathan Goldberg, told the Courts Martial Appeal Court that conditions in Helmand in 2011, with British troops coming under frequent insurgent attack, were a “breeding ground” for mental health problems.
As Blackman watched proceedings by video-link from prison, Goldberg said that three experts agreed that Blackman had been suffering from a recognized mental illness — an adjustment disorder, which impaired his ability to form a rational judgment or exercise self-control.
Goldberg said that Blackman was a reserved “John Wayne character” who had “mental scars” after narrowly escaping death in a grenade attack and suffering the loss of a close comrade.
“Only those who have been on the front line can know what it is really like,” he told the judges.