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Former U.S. citizen sentenced in Chile for shooting at protesters

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean court convicted and sentenced a former U.S. citizen on Sunday to 11 years in prison for firing a gun last year into a protest in a coastal city in the South American country.

The court found John Cobin had fired shots at a group of protesters along the Reñaca waterfront near the port city of Valparaiso. The demonstration was one of many that raged across Chile late in 2019 when unrest overtook the country, prompting widespread riots and looting.

Cobin was convicted on three counts, including attempted murder and unjustified shooting on a public way, the Chilean judicial authority said in a statement.

Cobin could not be immediately reached for comment.

After the shooting last year, a man who identified himself as Cobin said in a video posted on YouTube that he fired several shots from his handgun after his vehicle was surrounded by protesters.

“I was in fear for my life, being attacked by a violent mob,” he said in the video, which has since been removed from YouTube. “I did not do anything wrong.”

Cobin is originally from the U.S. state of South Carolina and once ran for a congressional seat as a libertarian.

He renounced his U.S. citizenship in December 2015 and is no longer an American citizen, according to a State Department official.

Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Daniel Wallis