Four former employees of the Blackwater security company have been convicted of a number of charges related to the 2007 shooting deaths of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. From the Washington Post:
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated 27 days before convicting Nicholas A. Slatten, of Sparta, Tenn., of murder. The panel also convicted Paul A. Slough of Keller, Tex., of 13 counts of manslaughter and 16 counts of attempted manslaughter; Evan S. Liberty of Rochester, N.H., of eight counts of manslaughter and 12 counts of attempted manslaughter; and [Dustin] Heard of Knoxville, Tenn., of six counts of manslaughter and 11 counts of attempted manslaughter.
Slough, Liberty and Heard were also convicted of using military firearms while committing a felony.
Slatten could be sentenced to life in prison, while the others face a minimum of 30 years. Another Blackwater employee, Jeremy Ridgeway, previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified for the prosecution in this trial.
The convicted guards were attempting to clear a secure route for a U.S. official who was fleeing the scene of an earlier bombing when they opened fire in Nisour Square. The ex-Blackwater guards argued in their defense that they were responding to incoming AK-47 gunfire, an assertion supported by some witnesses. But none of the Iraqis killed or injured were insurgents, the Post says, and some were reportedly attempting to flee the scene when they were killed.
One defendant’s lawyer has already said that he will appeal, while the Wall Street Journal writes that appeals related to evidence used in the case are “likely.”