Royal Marine's murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter

Claire Blackman, centre, the wife of convicted British Royal marine Alexander Blackman, speaks to the media outside the High Court in London Wednesday March 15, 2017. Blackman who shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has had his murder conviction downgraded Wednesday. The murder conviction of 42-year-old Sgt. Alexander Blackman has been quashed and replaced by a manslaughter conviction.  (Lauren Hurley/PA via AP)
Claire Blackman, the wife of convicted British Royal marine Alexander Blackman, speaks to the media outside the High Court in London Wednesday March 15, 2017. Blackman who shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has had his murder conviction downgraded Wednesday. The murder conviction of 42-year-old Sgt. Alexander Blackman has been quashed and replaced by a manslaughter conviction.  (Lauren Hurley/PA via AP)
FILE - This is a Oct. 14, 2001 file photo of former Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman. Blackman who shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has had his murder conviction downgraded Wednesday March 15, 2017. The murder conviction of 42-year-old Sgt. Alexander Blackman has been quashed and replaced by a manslaughter conviction.  (Andrew Parsons/file via AP)

LONDON — 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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