A British soldier has been found guilty of murdering an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan by shooting him in the chest, a British court martial board has found.
The Royal Marine who may be facing life in prison as a result of Friday’s decision told fellow soldiers to hush the incident up and acknowledged “I just broke the Geneva Convention” as he carried out the act, prosecutors said.
The board ruled that the commando, who can only be identified as “Marine A”, was guilty of killing the unnamed man in Helmand Province in September 2011.
Prosecutors said the incident took place after the military base was attacked by two fighters. A helicopter opened fire in response, and Marine A, together with two other British soldiers, then discovered the injured Afghan in a field.
The three moved the man to a sheltered area. Marine A shot the Afghan with a nine millimetre pistol, before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man died before him, according to prosecutors.
“Shuffle off this mortal coil [expletive]. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us,” the marine was heard saying in a video that captured the incident. The footage was inadvertently recorded by a camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B.
The soldiers told their superiors that the man had died from wounds, but the killing came to light when police investigating other matters found the video on a soldier’s laptop. Footage was shown at the court martial.
The three denied murdering the Afghan, and one marine had said he believed the man was already dead.
But a seven-member board convicted Marine A after a two-week trial. The two other marines were acquitted of “encouraging and assisting” in the killing.
British forces have been fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan alongside other international forces since 2001 though coalition forces are set to leave the country soon.
Spike in Afghan troop deaths
Meanwhile, a new US Pentagon report shows that the number of Afghan forces killed in combat has risen by 80 percent over the summer while coalition deaths dropped by almost 60 percent during the same six-month period.
The drop in US and coalition casualties reflects the Afghans’ increased role in fighting as well as the ongoing decrease in the number of international forces in the country. As of this week, there are about 48,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of slightly more than 100,000 in 2010.
Afghan forces now conduct 95 percent of conventional operations and 98 percent of special operations in Afghanistan.
Coalition forces continue to provide training and assistance and are still needed for air support, security, route clearance for roadside bombs, airlift for wounded or dead troops and counterterrorism operations.
A report said the Afghans, while gaining capabilities are far from being able to sustain the needed force in combating Taliban fighters, who are gaining ground in rural areas where their group had previously held power.