Four convicted of Blackwater killings

Oct 22, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT
Members of US private security company, Blackwater.
AFP Photo/Antonio Scorza

A U.S. federal jury has found four Blackwater security guards guilty of killing 14 Iraqis in a square in Baghdad in 2007. The BBC writes:

One former guard was found guilty of murder with three others guilty of voluntary manslaughter. A further 17 Iraqis were injured as the private contractors opened fire to clear the way for a US convoy.

The shootings sparked international outrage and a debate over the role of defence contractors in warfare. Prosecutors said the Blackwater guards had harboured deep hostility toward Iraqis and boasted of firing their weapons indiscriminately.

Nicholas Slatten was found guilty of murder while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of at least three charges of voluntary manslaughter and also face gun charges.

A former Blackwater Worldwide guard was convicted of murder and three co-workers of manslaughter in the 2007 shootings of 14 unarmed civilians in a Baghdad square - - an incident that stained the U.S. record in Iraq and led to new controls on military contractors. Bloomberg reports:

The shooting in Nisour Square, along with the killings by Marines of 24 civilians at Haditha and the abuses of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison were three of the most notorious cases of misconduct by U.S. personnel in the Iraq war and inflamed anti-American sentiment in the region.

One of the four guards may face a life sentence while the other three were convicted on multiple charges, some of which carry 30-year terms.

The failure of the U.S. to quickly investigate and prosecute the Nisour Square killings soured Iraqi public opinion just as the U.S. was making headway with a troop surge to quell sectarian violence, said Peter Mansoor, who served as executive officer in 2007 and 2008 to General David Petraeus, the commander of the multinational force in Iraq.

“There could have been greater good done with swifter dispensation of justice,” said Mansoor, now a history professor at Ohio State University. “In the grand sweep of U.S.-Iraqi relations, this will not be a huge gain,” he said of the verdict. “We’re now seven years removed. That’s a long time.”