Supporters of Alexander Blackman celebrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Tuesday, March, 28, 2017. A British court has shortened the sentence of Royal Marine Blackman, convicted of killing a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

Court cuts sentence of UK marine who killed injured militant

March 28, 2017 - 6:48 am

LONDON (AP) — A British court on Tuesday shortened the sentence of a Royal Marine convicted of killing a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, meaning he will likely be released from prison within weeks.

Sgt. Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder and 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."

Earlier this month, the Court Martial Appeal Court quashed the murder conviction and replaced it with one of manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Judges concluded that Blackman, 42, 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.

Supporters in the public gallery cheered as the judges reduced Blackman's sentence to seven years. He could be freed from prison next month, having served half his term.

Blackman's wife Claire, who has campaigned for his release, said outside court that she was "overjoyed" at the judges' decision.

"This is the moment that we have all been fighting hard for," she said. "It is hard to believe that this day is finally here."

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