Last Wednesday, a federal jury convicted four Blackwater guards for shooting 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians. The trial continued for 11 weeks with the convicted being charged with manslaughter, murder, and gun charges.
The defense attorney for the convicted claimed that the guards botched security and fired the weapons due to an out of control situation. However, the jurors rejected the claims of self-defense.
“This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” said U.S. Attorney for the District Ronald C. Machen Jr., “I pray that this verdict will bring some sense of comfort to the survivors of that massacre.”
Defense attorneys on the other hand, are stunned by the verdict and claim that the guards have been misjudged. “The verdict is wrong,” Schertler said. “We’re devastated. We’re going to fight this every step of the way.”
The jurors, which consisted of four men and eight women deliberated for 28 days before they came to an agreement on the sentence on Paul A. Slough,aged 35, from Keller, Texas (convicted for 13 manslaughters, and 17 attempted manslaughters), Nicholas A. Slatten aged 30 of Sparta, (convicted of murder), Evan S Liberty, aged 32, of Rochester, (convicted for 8 manslaughters and 12 attempted manslaughter) and Heard, aged 33 of Knoxville (convicted for 6 manslaughters and 11 attempted manslaughters).
Slough, in addition to Heard and Liberty was convicted of using military firearms while committing an act of felony. Slatten was sentenced with a mandatory life prison for murder. The remaining three were sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The Nisour Square shooting, which the guards were convicted, was a massacre like the Abu Ghraib abuses and a low point in the Iraq US relationship. The shooting was reported to occur when the Blackwater guards responded to a car bombing. The Iraqi civilians were killed when the guards attacked the crowds using grenade launchers and machine guns.
The confirmation in the part of other Blackwater guards has been major evidence in this case along with the gathered shell casings by the State Department Officials.
“I’ve seen people completely unarmed, people doing nothing wrong, get shot,” Matthew Murphy, a former Blackwater contractor, testified. He called the Nisour Square shooting “the most horrible, botched thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”