Latest update: 14/10/2012
- Afghanistan war - UK
Five British marines charged with murder
Five British marines have been charged with murder in relation to a 2011 incident in Afghanistan, the UK government said on Sunday. The defence ministry also announced plans to withdraw "thousands" of British troops from Afghanistan in 2013.
Five British Royal Marines have been charged with murder over a 2011 incident in Afghanistan, the country’s Ministry of Defence confirmed on Sunday.
The five are among nine marines who were arrested in connection with the incident in recent days. Four of those detained were later released without charge.
British media have reported the arrests were made after suspicious footage was found on a soldier’s laptop by police in the UK.
Details of the incident have not been revealed but government officials have said it involved an “engagement with an insurgent” in Helmand Province, where the majority of Britain’s 9,500 troops in Afghanistan are deployed. They say no civilians were involved.
The soldiers, who have not been named, are believed to be the first British troops to be charged with murder in Afghanistan since deployments began in 2001.
The Ministry of Defence said the cases “will now be taken forward” and will be dealt with by the independent Service Prosecuting Authority, which oversees military trials.
"Following direction from the SPA these marines have now been charged with murder and they remain in custody pending court proceedings,” a spokesman from the Ministry of Defence said.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further on this ongoing investigation," he added.
Rules of engagement
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the government was “determined that the rules of engagement” be followed.
“Everybody serving in theatre knows the rules of engagement, they carry cards in their uniforms with the rules on them in case they should need to remind themselves,” Hammond said.
The British rules of engagement, largely derived from the Geneva Convention, dictate under what circumstances soldiers are allowed to open fire.
The brigade believed to be involved in the incident, 3 Commando, was in the thick of the fighting with Taliban insurgents during its deployment last year to Helmand, which lies in Afghanistan’s south.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)