United Kingdom

UK Marine who killed wounded Taliban fighter gets murder conviction downgraded

Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman in 2001.

Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Blackman in 2001.  (Andrew Parsons/File via AP)

A Royal Marine who shot an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan has had his murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter.

Alexander Blackman, 42, shot the insurgent in Helmand province in 2011 and was convicted of murder two years later.

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Five judges sitting at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London have replaced that conviction with manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Originally, Blackman was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 10 years - but this was later cut to eight years on appeal due to the combat stress he had been suffering at the time of the killing.

The sentence he now has to serve will be decided at a hearing which has not yet been scheduled.

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Blackman's wife Claire said she was "delighted" by the decision, adding that it "much better reflects the circumstances that my husband found himself in during that terrible tour of Afghanistan".

She said: "We must now hope to secure a significant reduction in the sentence."

Author Frederick Forsyth, who has campaigned for Blackman's release, added: "It's not over yet. We always wanted justice - a very elusive word, much used, seldom achieved, it's a two-bladed weapon.

"Firstly, one blade to get a man who should never have been in prison out of prison, secondly, we go after those people who wrongly and I think villainously put him there."

The shooting was captured on a camera mounted on the helmet of another Royal Marine, who went with Blackman to find the Taliban fighter who had been wounded by an Apache helicopter.

Footage shows Blackman, known as Marine A, and three colleagues dragging the injured insurgent behind the cover of bushes.

After shooting the Afghan in the chest at point blank range, Blackman can be heard saying: "There you are, shuffle of this mortal coil you ****"

He adds: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere fellas...I've just broken the Geneva Convention."

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