[JURIST] The UK Court Martial Appeal Court on Tuesday reduced the sentence [sentencing remarks, PDF] of former Royal Marine [official website] Alexander Blackman, who was convicted of killing an injured Taliban militant in Afghanistan in 2011. His murder conviction that carried a sentence of life imprisonment was reduced to manslaughter this month, and this sentencing decision reduces his imprisonment [Guardian report] to only seven years. The judges noted that while his service without issue before the killing is a factor weighing against dismissal with disgrace from the Royal Marines, the severity of the crime supports that he should remain dismissed. The charge was reduced to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, as the killing occurred after the British base came under fire and he was under significant mental impairment from “adjustment disorder.” Given that he has served nearly half of his new seven-year sentence already, Blackman may be eligible for release within weeks.
In December 2013 the Military Court Centre in Bulford [official website] sentenced [JURIST report] Blackman to life in prison for the murder of the Taliban insurgent that occurred during the his overseas deployment. Blackman, along with four other individuals, was charged with killing a wounded Taliban fighter, who appeared in a video that features marines debating whether to give the fighter medical care. The video then shows Blackman shooting the Afghan individual [BBC report] with a pistol. This decision occurred only one day after three judges of the Court Martial Appeal Court lifted the anonymity order that had been protecting Blackman’s identity until that point. Blackman’s sentence came after a long battle to remain anonymous throughout the court proceedings for the 2011 murder. The Service Prosecuting Authority [official website] initially charged [JURIST report] the five marines with murder in October 2012. A Judge Advocate General for the Military Court Centre in Bulford ruled [JURIST report] the following month that the five marines charged with murder could remain anonymous throughout their court martial. Thursday’s order, which lifted Blackman’s anonymity order, allowed those for the other four marines to remain in place, at least temporarily, while the court proceedings continue.