A Royal Marine who killed an injured Taliban fighter in Afghanistan could get out of jail in a few weeks time as a result of reduced sentence.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman, 42, was sentenced to seven years for diminished responsibility manslaughter after the original murder conviction was dropped.
Blackman has already spent three and a half years in prison for his original sentence of seven years. Even if his murder conviction has already been downgraded to manslaughter, his earlier stay in prison will be counted to his favor. Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas has said that Blackman's release will be at the halfway point of the sentence, and based from Blackman's legal team's calculation, means that their client could enjoy his freedom in as fast as two weeks' time. The exact date for Blackman's release will be decided by the Prison Service.
Blackman's case was controversial because of the circumstances surrounding his legal battle. Blackman previously known as Marine A shot a Taliban fighter in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol in Helmand province while in combat in 2011. The rebel was already seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter. Blackman quoted a phrase from Shakespeare as the Taliban fighter convulsed and died in front of him. He then turned to his comrades and said that he just broke the Geneva Convention.
The shooting was caught on a camera placed on the helmet of another Royal Marine. During his trial, Blackman said he thought the victim was already dead and he was just taking out his anger on a dead body.
Blackman was convicted of murder in November 2013 by a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire and sentenced to life with a minimum 10 year prison term. It was later reduced to eight years, and then Blackman's team filed for an appeal.
The judges said Blackman had been a great soldier before he was sent to fight in Afghanistan in March 2011. He suffered from big stressors during his Afghanistan stay. The court also found that the shooting incident was not really a "cold-blooded execution" but the result of an adjustment disorder being suffered by Blackman which is considered a mental illness. The court also ruled that Blackman was suffering from such mental illness at the time of the killing in 2011. His mental illness significantly impaired his ability to form a rational judgement. This could have contributed to his reduced sentence.
Blackman's family has expressed happiness over news that he could be sent home and be with them in as soon as two weeks.