Five Royal Marines charged with the murder of an Afghan national will remain anonymous until after their court martial concludes, a judge ruled today.
The soldiers, known only by the ciphers A, B, C, D and E, are charged with the murder of an unknown captured Afghan national on or around September 15 last year contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act (2006).
Following an in-camera hearing last month an interim order was made under armed forces rules and the Contempt of Court Act, preventing the publication of their identities due to a "real and immediate risk" to their lives.
They were released from custody on the orders of Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett when they appeared at another behind closed doors hearing on October 22 and returned to their barracks.
He extended the interim anonymity order until November 5 when a special hearing was held at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire, to allow the media to challenge the reporting restrictions.
At the hearing, again in camera, the judge received written submissions from the Press Association, the Plymouth Herald and Guardian News and Media challenging the ban.
In one submission, by the Press Association, it was argued that in previous cases, such as the original court martial into the death in British custody of Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa, none of the accused soldiers had received anonymity.
But the Judge Advocate General said that after considering a threat assessment and having heard testimony from former defence intelligence officer Anthony Tucker-Jones, he was satisfied there may be a "real and immediate risk" to the defendant's lives.