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  1. ITV Report

100,000 signatures for Taunton Royal Marine to be freed

Sgt Alexander Blackman is serving a life sentence for shooting an injured Taliban fighter Photo:

More than 100,000 people have called for a Royal Marine who killed an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan to be freed from prison.

Their support could mean the case of Sergeant Alexander Blackman from Taunton is debated in parliament.

Sgt Blackman faced a court martial after video footage of the incident was found on a laptop computer. He admitted shooting a Taliban fighter who had already been hit by a round from an Apache helicopter gunship. But the the court martial panel didn't accept his claim that the man was already dead when he shot him. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

An epetition was started demanding his release. It gathered more than a 100,000 signatures, enough to trigger a parliamentary debate.

Parliament cannot intervene directly in a court decision, but former Royal Marine, former MP, and trained lawyer Lord Burnett says it should take action on the court martial system.

You can have a panel of seven, four can vote guilty and three not guilty and that's enough to tip the balance. Now that's grossly unfair. In a normal criminal court you have to get about eleven of the jurors to say guilty before you can convict. In a court martial you have these seven people and they're lay people, and they're doing the sentencing. And that's completely wrong, completely wrong.

– Lord Burnett

Lord Burnett has kept in touch with Sgt Blackman and his family.

The family feels really bolstered and butressed by this tremendous support, this tremendous public support. It is really overwhelming. And I know that she and Sgt Blackman are immensely grateful to the public for that.

– Lord Burnett