Blackwater security guards guilty in Iraq killings

A federal jury in the US District Court for the District of Columbia returned a guilty verdict on Oct. 21 for four ex-security guards for Blackwater, now Academi, who shot and killed 14 Iraqis and wounded 17 in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad. Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of first-degree murder, and three others were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations: Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard. The men were serving as private contractors, hired to protect members of the US Department of State, when they fired into a group of people in a crowded intersection in Baghdad's Nisour Square. Counsel for the men claimed self-defense and argued the men were fired on by insurgents and Iraqi police before opening fire themselves. The federal prosecution argued the men showed a grave indifference to the consequence of their actions and the shooting was not provoked. More than a dozen Iraqis were scheduled to offer testimony in the 11-week trial, which was dismissed by the DC District Court in 2010. The trial has raised a number of legal issues, including federal jurisdiction over contractors working for the State Department. The ruling is expected to face a number of appeals.

From Jurist, Oct. 23. Used with permission.

Blackwater murder conviction overturned

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Aug. 4 overturned the murder conviction of a former Blackwater Worldwide security guard and ordered resentencing of three others for the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007. Nicholas Slatten, a former Army sniper, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for firing the first fatal shots. The other three men, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough, were found guilty of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and use of a machine gun in a violent crime and sentenced to 30 years. The appeals court found that the trial court abused its discretion in not allowing Slatten to be tried separately from his co-defendants and also found that the 30-year sentences violated the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment:. (Jurist)