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LONDON — A British taxi driver was sentenced to a minimum of 38 years in prison Friday for his role in a bomb-making campaign that killed a U.S. soldier in Iraq.
Anis Abid Sardar, 38, was convicted of murder after his fingerprints were found on two bombs, linking him to another device that killed Sgt. Randy Johnson in September 2007.
He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of 38 years, according to NBC News' British partner ITV News. He was convicted of two counts of murder and conspiracy to murder a day earlier.
The judge, Mr Justice Globe, rejected Sardar's claim that he had only been involved in making bombs to try to protect the Sunni Muslim community from Shiite militants.
"Your focus was either wholly or partly American," the judge said, according to ITV News. "You had a mindset that made Americans every bit the enemy as Shia militias."
Johnson, 34, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, was killed when the armored vehicle he was traveling in was hit by an IED in Baghdad on September 27, 2007.
The landmark prosecution was the first time anyone has been convicted in a British court for murder during the Iraq War, ITV News reported.
Following the guilty verdict, Johnson's widow, Claudia Williams, told NBC News: "I'm really relieved but for us it doesn't change anything. We still lost Randy."
Luke Stinson, one of the soldiers who tried to save Johnson's life, admitted he hoping for a tough punishment.
"I hope they nail his ass to the wall and burn the wall down," he told NBC News before the sentencing. "I wish they had the death penalty over there, because this guy deserves it."
Two other U.S. soldiers, Jesus Bustamante and Joseph Bacani, were shot while trying to retrieve another bomb linked to Sardar on March 20, 2007.
Bacani, who was awarded a Purple Heart and had to learn how to walk again after being shot in the pelvis, told ITV News he was "relieved" at the thought of Sardar being brought to justice.
"I think it brings a sense of justice but it’s not an equivalent thing," he said. "It doesn't bring back a life but it does help us recuperate."