DC Jury Finds Four Blackwater Guards Guilty on Charges Related to Nisour Square Shootings

Paul Slough, Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten

A Washington, DC jury found four Blackwater guards guilty on charges relating to the 2007 shootings of 30 Iraqi civilians.

The jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder.  Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of “at least 3 counts”   of voluntary manslaughter.

This partial verdict comes after 27 days of deliberation by the jury of 8 women and four men.

The jury still has to deliberate on other counts, but District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth allowed the jury to announce the verdicts it had arrived at.

This story began on September 16,2007  when the contractors shot 30 people at Nisour Square, killing 17 of them.  The guards were at the square to clear a path for a State Department convoy.

The Nisour Square shooting and the U.S. government’s subsequent refusal to allow Iraq to prosecute the men led to a diplomatic crises between the two countries.

Following an investigation by the FBI, Blackwater, now operating under the name Academi paid $7.5 million in fines without admitting guilt to settle various charges involving “pre-Academi” employees.

While Congress denounced the shootings as recently as July, legislation that would have clarified U.S. jurisdiction for American prosectors and investigators to address criminal wrong-doing overseas by private security contractors continues to languish after years of neglect.

The Washington post suggests that the Jury accepted part of the Defense claim that the four were acting in self-defense.  However, some of them reacted excessively and unreasonably.

During trial, prosecutors said the ensuing gunfire was so extensive that “bloody, bullet-riddled corpses were left throughout the area.”

Prosecutors presented testimony from 70 witnesses, 30 of them were Iraqis.  During trial, prosecutors suggested that Slatten and Liberty were hostile to the Iraq’s civilian population.  With Slough, they occasionally fired weapons at Iraqi targets without provocation.

The Defense claimed the four acted reasonable because Baghdad was the scene of “horrific threats from car bombs, ambushes and follow-on attacks, sometimes aided by Iraqi security forces infiltrated by guerrillas.

They further claimed that the U.S. government overstepped legal boundaries by prosecution under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.  That’s the law that allows prosecutions for criminal acts committed abroad by government employees and contractors.  The defense said their clients were in Iraq under a contract with the State Department, not the Pentagon.  Prosecutors countered that the MEJA applies to those “engaged in actions related to supporting the U.S. military mission.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of life imprison.  The maximum term for involuntary manslaughter is eight years and seven years for attempted manslaughter.

If the accused are found guilty on gun charges, they will face mandatory minimum terms of 30 years.

Initially, the odds were against this trial taking place at all.  It took seven years, but in the end, justice prevailed. The Blackwater four said they will appeal.  Legal Times (subscription needed) reports Heard’s lawyer said the defense would fight the verdict “ever step of the way.”

Image: War Profiteers

6 Replies to “DC Jury Finds Four Blackwater Guards Guilty on Charges Related to Nisour Square Shootings”

  1. Send them to Abu Ghraib and along the way pick up Eric Prince to keep them company.

    4 down now if we can only get the so-called Vulcans on trial there might be some justice

  2. Hallelujah!
    Now, let Justice grab Bush by his smarmy frat boy cod piece and toss that coke-addled scatological creep in prison with the others.

    May even throw shoe at him while they’re at it.

  3. I print shirts every so often for a veteran who now works for the new criminal enterprise Mr. Prince owns now. I told him that he is just too honest and too good of a person to work for such blatant homicidal bible thumping criminals. But I know his personality is stronger than the criminals he works for.

  4. Anyone ever wonder why those in the middle east are now bound and determined, to take the US down? Those Iraqi, whom were gunned down, have relatives, who have relatives, who are all about getting even. Even in an armed conflict, there are ethics, supposedly, that is what separates us from the real beasts in our world.

    But then, there are the republicans of today…

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