US Court Throws Out Murder Conviction of Ex-Blackwater Guard

04 Août, 2017, 21:41 | Author: Claudine Rigal
  • Former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten leaves a federal court in Washington in June 2014. Slatten was found guilty of murder for his role in a deadly Baghdad shooting but he has won an appeal of his conviction

All four men were convicted in 2014 and sentenced the following year.

At a new trial, Slatten would be able to introduce evidence that one of his co-defendants had fired the first shot and not him. Slatten had been sentenced to life in prison.

The three-judge panel said Slatten should have had a separate trial instead of being tried alongside his former colleagues.

The court also ordered re-sentencing for three others convicted of manslaughter in the case - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, who had previously been given 30-year sentences.

A federal appeals court has overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater security contractor.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

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Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington DC, called the decision "dramatic" and "unusual".

The 2007 massacre took place at a Baghdad traffic circle, where the four guards opened fire on unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, killing 14 people and leaving 17 others wounded.

The Sept. 16, 2007, incident stood out for its brutality even in a city in a grip of a bitter sectarian war and sparked debate over the role of private security contractors working for the USA government in war zones.

A heavily armed, four-vehicle Blackwater Worldwide convoy the men were travelling in had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats after a nearby auto bomb.

Slatten's murder conviction was for shooting dead the driver of a white Kia auto that had stopped at the traffic circle. "The Court therefore remands for the resentencing of Slough, Liberty and Heard", the ruling said.

The private military company Blackwater, founded in 1997, was later sold and rebranded as Academi.

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