Royal Marine's murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 15, 2017 at 1:04 p.m.

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LONDON (AP) — A British Royal Marine commando who fatally shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has won a reduced sentence of manslaughter.

The earlier murder conviction of 42-year-old Sgt. Alexander Blackman was quashed Wednesday and replaced by a manslaughter conviction.

A panel of five judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court confirmed the new ruling based on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Blackman had been sentenced to a minimum of 10 years by a military court in 2013 for the September 2011 killing in Helmand Province.

Footage from another marine's helmet camera showed Blackman shooting the militant in the chest at close range, then saying: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."

Judges concluded that the Royal Marine had been suffering from a mental illness at the time of the shooting. They said Blackman had been "an exemplary soldier" prior to his deployment to Afghanistan and had "suffered from quite exceptional stressors" during his time in the conflict zone.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government respects the court's decision and emphasized that the Ministry of Defense would be looking into the judgment further.

Blackman's supporters welcomed the judges' decision and said the next battle was to ensure his imminent release from prison. A further hearing will be held to determine Blackman's sentence on the manslaughter conviction.

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