Federal prosecutors indicated Nov. 21 that they will drop manslaughter charges against a Blackwater Worldwide security guard who was involved in the September 2007 shooting incident in Baghdad that killed 17 Iraqis. According to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing Phillips, a motion was filed under seal to dismiss the charges against Nicholas Slatten. No reason was given as to why the indictment was being dismissed, but prosecutors asked that they be allowed to resubmit the charges at a later date if desired. Since the incident Blackwater has changed its name to Xe Services.
Slatten was one of six guards indicted in December on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence. Five of the guards pleaded not guilty in January. However, a sixth guard pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same incident. The Blackwater incident caused domestic outrage in Iraq and has prompted legal controversy in the US. In November 2008, a FBI investigation into the incident concluded that the shootings were unjustified. Blackwater ended its operations in Iraq in May. (Jurist, Nov. 22)
See our last post on Iraq.