Newspapers lose bid to show executing an Afghan prisoner
A judge has ruled against newspapers seeking to publish footage of a British soldier allegedly executing an Afghan prisoner.
The video has been already shown during the trial of three Royal Marines accused of executing a wounded opponent. The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail had applied for the release of the video.
The footage from a helmet mounted camera shows one of the soldiers shooting the victim in the chest.
The video was shown during a military tribunal in Bulford, Wiltshire.
The incident happened in Helmand Province on in September 2011.
On the video, one of the soldiers is heard to say: “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil you c***, it’s nothing you wouldn’t have done to us.”
He added: “Obviously this don’t go anywhere fellas, I’ve just broken the Geneva Convention.”
The Ministry of Defence had opposed the release of the video as it could be used by terrorists as a recruiting aid.
In a written ruling, Judge Advocate General Judge Jeff Blackett rejected the media’s application.
He said: “In short, therefore, my view is the principle of open justice can be satisfied and has been satisfied by the DVD being played in open court where it has been observed by journalists and reported upon quite properly.
“Releasing it for unrestricted public consumption would expose British service personnel to increased risk of harm unnecessarily.”
Blackett said there was a “very high risk” that the video could be used by terrorists as a tool to radicalise people and incite others to carry out terrorist attacks.
He said: “Once published it would be impossible to stop further distribution in defiance of any order I might make. Once the genie escaped from the bottle it would be possible to control or put it back in,” the judge said.
“I suspect that this would be in the form of increased insurgent activity in theatre or the deliberate targeting of off-duty service personnel overseas and in this country.
“In balancing the need for open justice against this risk I am fortified by the fact that the principle of open justice will not be compromised in this case if the DVD is not released.”