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Court of Appeal refuses to disclose Sergeant Blackman video clips due to threat to life

R v Alexander Blackman; and BBC, ITN, Times Newspapers Ltd, British Sky Broadcasting, Guardian News and Media and Associated Newspapers Ltd and Ministry of Defence [2017] EWCA Crim 326

The Court of Appeal refused to release some of the video footage which showed Sergeant Alexander Blackman killing an injured disarmed Taliban insurgent.  It was held that it would significantly endanger a large number of people and could be used to radicalise terrorists.

In 2013, a patrol led by Blackman was tasked in assessing a Taliban insurgent who was badly injured.  The wounded insurgent’s assault rifle lay within his reach and there was a grenade in his pocket.  The marines disarmed him professionally.  He was then dragged to the edge of the field, sworn at and mocked.  Blackman shot the wounded man and moments later told colleagues, ‘obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas.  I’ve just broken the Geneva convention.’

While the patrol kept quiet, the incident had been captured on a head camera worn by one of the men.  A year later, the camera was found by chance by military investigators.  Blackman was found guilty of murder but his conviction was recently quashed and replaced with diminished responsibility manslaughter.

A number of media organisations had requested the video footage.  The Court held that it was, ‘not necessary for us to determine the issue under Article 2.  It seemed to us clear on the evidence…that the balance under Article 10 was clear beyond any doubt.  Sufficient [information] has been put into the public domain to make it possible fairly to report the appeal without creating the real and immediate danger to life that would result from making available the three clips…’

The footage was partially released but some of it was withheld.

Read article from the Guardian here.

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