Blackwater employees sentenced for killing Iraqi civilians

Former Blackwater Worldwide Employee Nicholas Slatten has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 14 Iraqi civilians in Nisoor Square, Baghdad in 2007.

Slatten’s co-defendants, fellow ex-Blackwater employees Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and David Slough were each sentenced to 30-years in prison for manslaughter.

The four men worked for defense contractor Blackwater Worldwide, and were tasked with clearing the way for a U.S. convoy in 2007 when they opened fire on a crowd of civilians.

In addition to the 14 killed, an additional 17 were injured.

The defendants claimed that they were returning fire from enemy insurgents.

“I am very sorry for the loss of life,”said Heard. “But I cannot say in all honesty to the court that I believe I did anything wrong.”

Through detailed testimony, the federal prosecutor showed how the violence began quickly after the Blackwater trucks rolled up and that the shooting was unprovoked.

“I saw people huddled down in their cars, trying to shield their children with their bodies,” said Adam Frost, a former Blackwater employee and witness for the prosecution.

Other witnesses spoke of a woman cradling the body of her son, an unarmed dying man being shot at while laying on the ground and a man who was killed while his hands were raised in surrender.

Blackwater’s founder is Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL and major contributor to the Republican Party.

The private military company has been awarded more than $1 billion in various government contracts over the years.

Blackwater was greatly feared by civilians in Iraq.

“Blackwater had power like Saddam Hussein,” said Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq, who’s nine-year-old son was killed in the attack.

 

[NY Times][BBC News][Photo courtesy of Washington Post]