A former employee of the Blackwater security company, Nicholas Slatten, was sentenced Monday to life in prison for murdering Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007; three of his former colleagues (Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard) were sentenced to 30 years on manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and weapons convictions related to the same massacre. (Slatten was accused of murder because he is said to have fired the first shots of the incident.)
Slatten and Heard, speaking to the court, said they still believe their actions were justified by enemy fire:
“I am very sorry for the loss of life,” Mr. Heard said. “But I cannot say in all honesty to the court that I believe I did anything wrong.”
“The verdict is wrong,” Mr. Slatten told the judge. “You know I am innocent, sir.”
The New York Times writes that the judge who passed down the sentences was “moved” by testimony about the convicted men’s backgrounds and “choked up” when speaking about their military service. But, the judge said, “The overall wild thing that went on here just cannot be condoned by the court.”
Attorneys for the convicted men said they will appeal.