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Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in Killings of Iraqi Civilians

Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in Killings of Iraqi Civilians
Former Blackwater Worldwide security guards clockwise from top left, Donald Ball, Evan Liberty, Dustin Hard, and Nick Slatten. (Chris Detrick/Reuters/Landov; Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/Landov)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 12:57 PM

 A former Blackwater Worldwide guard was convicted of murder in connection with the 2007 shooting of civilians in Baghdad. Two of three other guards charged in the shootings were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter by a federal jury in Washington.

Nicholas Slatten was convicted of murdering Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, a medical student who was driving toward the guards in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, by the jury which had deliberated since Sept. 2, following a 10-week trial. More verdicts are still pending.

After Rubia’y was shot, the guards continued to fire, resulting in more than 30 Iraqis being killed or wounded. The guards, who were hired to protect State Department personnel, were accused by prosecutors of going on an out-of-control shooting spree, firing recklessly on unarmed civilians. Defense lawyers argued the guards had reason to fear they were under attack and fired in self-defense following a car explosion.

The incident at Nisour Square influenced changes in U.S. counterinsurgency policy which put “greater restraint on the use of force” and more control on contractors to reduce the risk of “shoot ups by groups not under the military chain of command,” according to Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, who studies U.S. defense strategy and use of military force.

“It’s obviously up there with Abu Ghraib and a couple of other events as one of the signature mistakes of the war,” O’Hanlon said in a phone interview before the verdicts.

The shootings also affected a U.S. decision to allow American contractors to be subject to Iraqi law while working in the country, O’Hanlon said. “That’s a huge concession,” he said.

The cases are U.S. v. Slatten, 14-cr-00107, and U.S. v. Slough, 08-cr-00360, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

 

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A former Blackwater Worldwide guard was convicted of murder in connection with the 2007 shooting of civilians in Baghdad. Two of three other guards charged in the shootings were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter by a federal jury in Washington. Nicholas Slatten was...
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014 12:57 PM
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