Remembering those who are prepared to give their todays for our tomorrows..
STANDING in the CBJ newsroom just a few moments ago with group of students for an impromptu two-minutes silence I couldn’t help but consider the irony of how, on the eve of this weekend’s Remebrance Sunday celebrations, for the first time in history a British soldier has been found guilty of war crimes.
Marine A shot and killed an injured and defenceless man, knowing it was against the Geneva Convention and telling his comrades to keep quiet. On Friday he was found guilty of murder and in December he will be sentenced when he has been told he can expect to face life imprisonment.
Which is absolutely as it should be…
BUT life? Life for a man, still only 39 years old, who has faced numerous tours of duty in Afghanistan, one of the most horrific theatres of war in modern conflict, who has seen more than 20 of his fellow soldiers killed or maimed, who has been trained to kill and then brutalised by war and when faced with a member of the Taliban, an organisation which knows no justice, no mercy or no respect for human dignity, he did what he has been trained to do. Life?
During his trial, which I watched unfold through the numerous TV reports, an audio recording and stills of the execution were released to the media. They turned my stomach.
And here’s the other irony; after years as a journalist of lobbying judges for open justice, wanting to use the evidence which had been seen by juries in my own reports, I found myself wincing at the thought of how this footage, through countless news websites, has now gone viral.
Not just because of the shocking nature of its content but because of the potential for terror reprisals which surely will follow.
As I watched the TV images of poppy wreaths being laid at the Cenotaph today, I wondered how many more lives we would be remembering next November, as a result of this footgae, and not just those attacked at checkpoints in the Helmand Province but those, like Lee Rigby, on home soil who are now targets for terrorists, needing no excuse, now handed plenty on a plate by our judiciary.
And so, here’s my thought for Armistice Day, I hope that in December the court, rising above the public outrage that this case has caused, shows Marine A the kind of mercy and restraint which he himself, in a moment of weakness, failed to show his victim.