Five Marines are charged with Afghanistan murder
FIVE Royal Marines believed to be from Bickleigh-based 42 Commando have been charged with murder following an incident in Afghanistan last year.
Seven Marines were arrested on Thursday, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Royal Military Police (RMP) had arrested two more Marines on suspicion of murder, one on Friday and one on Saturday, taking the total number of arrests to nine.
Four have since been released without charge, pending further inquiries.
All five of the accused men are believed to be members of 42 Commando Royal Marines, based at Bickleigh. They had been on tour in Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick and had recently returned to the UK. A statement from the MoD said: "The RMP has referred the cases of the remaining five Royal Marines to the independent Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA).
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"Following direction from the SPA these marines have now been charged with murder and they remain in custody pending court proceedings."
The Royal Military Police (RMP) arrested the soldiers in connection with an incident which occurred while they were based in Helmand last year.
The incident was described as "an engagement with an insurgent", with no civilians involved, and an investigation has been launched by the Service Justice System.
The rules of engagement, largely derived from the Geneva Convention, dictate under what circumstances British troops are allowed to open fire, whether that is to prevent an attack by the enemy or in direct contact.
During its six-month tour of duty 3 Commando Brigade saw seven servicemen killed in action, all from Plymouth-based 42 Commando.
The arrests are thought to be the first time UK servicemen have been held on suspicion of such charges during the conflict in Afghanistan.