Army Chiefs Call For Leniency For Marine Who 'Executed' Injured Afghan Insurgent
|Major-General Julian Thompson|
When is a war crime, not a war crime?
Judging by many of the “comments” against this Huffington Post article, it seems that the indiscriminate killing of an unarmed, wounded enemy while in the custody of soldiers, (particularly if those soldiers are British troops) qualifies only for praise and commendation.
Is it not the case that a war crime is a war crime, whether committed in Deir Yassin, or Mai Lai, or at Saarbrücken, or in Hellmand province?
The is no doubt that the British service personnel currently serving in Afghanistan, and those who have died there, are deserving of the greatest praise and respect. That in itself does not justify or excuse behaviour of the type described in the court. Nor does it warrant intervention by Major-General Julian Thompson with the observation that "It is like a member of the family who has broke the law - you don't reject them, but you support them."
The fact remains that what took place in Hellmand was a war crime and should be dealt with accordingly, no matter what the eminent Major-General may think.
The Nuremberg trials, established the principle of “war crimes”, and that principle has been applied in many cases where charges have been brought. Bosnia, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Viet Nam and many other instances, evidence how international law has been applied.
Events in Hellmand Province do not tarnish all service personnel with the criminal actions of one marine, and we must not allow our support and appreciation of the role of our service personnel in Afghanistan to cloud or distort our judgement of what is a crime.