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  1. ITV Report

Royal Marine jailed for life for killing Taliban fighter says he has been made a 'scapegoat'

Former Sergeant Alexander Blackman.

A Royal Marine convicted of murdering an injured Afghan fighter on the battlefield has said he has been made a "scapegoat".

Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 41, shot his victim in the chest at close range in Helmand province after the Afghan had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter in July 2011.

Blackman was given a life sentence and ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years after being found guilty in 2013.

Speaking from prison, the former Marine said his conviction was to "show the world how politically correct we are".

"I have been made a scapegoat for all that went wrong there," he told the Daily Mail.

He has spoken out for the first time as a campaign to mount a fresh appeal against his conviction was launched, led by author Frederick Forsyth.

Blackman said he had been portrayed as an "evil scumbag" who had "carefully planned to kill his wife"

A soldier on foot patrol in Helmand province in Afghanistan. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Blackman said he had been portrayed as an "evil scumbag" who had "carefully planned to kill his wife"

I have been treated like someone who had carefully planned to kill his wife, invented an alibi and buried her body in the woods. I made a split-second mistake.

I had been sent to a brutal battlefield to fight for my country in an unpopular war.

And yet at the end of my trial the establishment lined up to portray me as an evil scumbag because it suited them to do so at the time.

– Sergeant Alexander Blackman

Blackman - who denied murder - was known as Marine A during his trial.

In footage shown to the court, Blackman told the Afghan fighter before pulling the trigger: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."

He then turned to soldiers serving with him and said: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."

Blackman claimed that he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.

As well as receiving a jail sentence, he was also "dismissed with disgrace" from the Royal Marines after 15 years' service, including tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blackman's first challenge against his conviction was rejected by the Court Martial Appeal Court although his minimum term was cut to eight years because of the combat stress disorder he was suffering at the time of the incident.

An online petition calling for his conviction to be quashed gained more than 100,000 signatures last year.