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Published On: Tue, Apr 14th, 2015

Blackwater Iraqi massacre: Nicholas Slatten gets life, Paul Slough, Evan Libery, Dustin Heard – 30 years

A former Blackwater security guard was sentenced to life in prison and three others got 30-year prison terms on Monday for the massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad facility in 2007.

The four guards opened fire with machine guns and grenade launchers on the Iraqis, including women and children, at Nisur Square, as members of the heavily armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy clearing a path for US diplomats.

photo US Army Joint Salute

photo US Army Joint Salute

Nicholas Slatten, 31, of Tennessee was convicted in October of killing the driver of a car, who the defendants argued that they believed contained a bomb. 17 other Iraqis, including women and children were also killed.

Paul Slough, 35, of Texas; Evan Liberty, 32, of New Hampshire; and Dustin Heard, 33, of Tennessee, who were convicted of manslaughter, were each sentenced to 30 years in prison, the mandatory minimum they faced.

“It’s clear these fine young men just panicked,” US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth said. “But the overall wild thing that went on just cannot be condoned by this court.”

US federal prosecutors had called the guards’ action “horrendous” and urged longer sentences for Slough, Liberty and Heard.

North Carolina-based Blackwater was sold and renamed several times after the incident. It is now called Academi, based in northern Virginia.

The September 16, 2007 incident stood out as a shocking lapse of judgment and formed a tense backdrop to talks between the United States and Iraq over the continued presence of US forces in the country.

It also sparked debate over private security contractors working for the US government in war zones.

In October 2007 the United Nations released a two year study that stated that private contractors, although hired as “security guards”, were performing military duties. The report found that the use of contractors such as Blackwater was a “new form of mercenary activity” and illegal under international law; however, the United States is not a signatory of the 1989 UN Mercenary Convention banning the use of mercenaries. (Wikipedia)

 US Soldiers Blackwater Iraqi massacre

 

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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