By John Lee.
Four former Blackwater guards have been given long prison sentences over the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square in 2007.
Nicholas Slatten received a life sentence for first-degree murder, while Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were all sentenced to 30 years on multiple counts of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.
The fourteen civilians were killed, and another 17 injured, as the private contractors opened fire to clear the way for a US convoy.
According to BBC News, the men had claimed that they were under fire from insurgents but prosecutors successfully argued what happened was an unprovoked ambush against civilians. The US Government said that none of the victims was an insurgent, or posed any threat to the convoy.
The defendants protested their innocence, and their lawyers unsuccessfully argued for leniency, while prosecutors argued that the sentences be made even harsher because the ex-guards had never expressed any remorse.
Defense lawyers say they will appeal the convictions.
Blackwater was sold in 2011 and is now known as Academi.
(Sources: BBC News, The Guardian)
(Court image via Shutterstock)