Justice for Sergeant Blackman: Former soldiers protest in Parliament Square over Marine serving a life sentence for 'mercy killing' in Afghanistan
- Royal Marine was jailed for life in 2013 Taliban insurgent in Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2011
- Supporters say he has been made a scapegoat and the fighter he killed was already fatally wounded
- Retired Royal Marines formed a 'sea of green berets' in Westminster today to show their support
Hundreds of people have gathered outside Parliament to protest over the jailing of a Royal Marine for the murder of an Afghan insurgent.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman was handed a life sentence after he killed the wounded captive at close range with a 9mm pistol in Helmand province in September 2011.
Blackman's supporters have campaigned for a retrial by claiming he was a scapegoat. Campaigners say that the man was already fatally wounded before being killed by Blackman.
The Ministry of Defence has reportedly banned serving military personnel from attending the show of solidarity.
Former soldiers held a protest in Parliament Square today demanding justice for Sergeant Alex Blackman
Hundreds attended the rally for the Royal Marine, who was jailed for life for killing an insurgent in Afghanistan
Supporters are angry at delays to the Royal Marine's case while he continues to serve time in a British prison
Former and serving members of the armed forces spoke to the crowds at the rally including MP Richard Drax (pictured)
QC Jonathan Goldberg, who is acting for Blackman, told the crowd that English law does not recognise a 'mercy killing', but in the past authorities had the sense not to press charges in such cases.
Mr Goldberg said a soldier would now have to 'ring his solicitor before firing his rifle'.
Footage from another marine's helmet-mounted camera showed Blackman quoting Shakespeare before shooting the insurgent.
He told the fighter: 'There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us.'
Blackman's minimum sentence was reduced to eight years but his challenge to the outcome of the original trial was unsuccessful.
Ten months ago, Sgt Blackman’s family submitted an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to have his case reviewed.
A supporter holds a flag with Sergeant Blackman's face on it. The crowd are demanding the case is re-examined
More flag raising: Footage from another marine's helmet-mounted camera was used as evidence in Sergrant Blackman's case
Sergeant Blackman will spend eight years behind bars until he is eligible for parole but he lost a challenge to his convicted
QC Jonathan Goldberg, who is acting for Blackman, told the crowd that English law does not recognise a 'mercy killing', but in the past authorities had the sense not to press charges in such cases
The rally due to its prominent position near Westminster was seen by many passers-by and tourists
A comprehensive report delivered by Blackman’s legal team, headed by Jonathan Goldberg QC, set out eight significant arguments in support of a case review by the Appeal Court.
They include the fact that his troop had suffered six months on the ‘tour from hell’ under-manned, under-resourced and under daily Taliban assault, before Sgt Blackman snapped.
His lawyers argue there was significant ‘combat stress’ which could support his conviction being commuted from murder to manslaughter.
The case has been dogged with delays, despite the CCRC giving it top priority.
Tory MP Richard Drax has previously said: 'While I am delighted that his case is being treated as a top priority by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, it does appear to be taking an inordinate amount of time to conclude.
'Meanwhile, a good man continues to rot in jail, a man whom I believe has not received justice, a man whom has served his country with distinction, a man whom we have turned our backs on when he needed us most.'
Sergeant Blackman's wife Claire Blackman also spoke to all those showing support for her husband
Hundreds of retired Marines - forming a ‘sea of green’ berets - and members of the public will gather for the demonstration
Former and serving members of the armed forces of all ages attended along with crowds of members of the public
Sergeant Blackman (pictured), known as ‘Marine A’ at his court martial, killed a Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011
According to camera footage Sergeant Blackman told the fighter to 'shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us.'
Sergeant Blackman's legal team argue he suffered six months on the ‘tour from hell’ under-manned, under-resourced and under daily Taliban assault
Tory MP Richard Drax who spoke to those, many of whom expressed their upset, has previously said 'a good man continues to rot in jail, a man whom I believe has not received justice, a man whom has served his country with distinction, a man whom we have turned our backs on when he needed us most'