DC Circuit Tosses Murder Conviction of Ex-Blackwater Guard

(CN) – The D.C. Circuit ordered a new trial on Friday for an ex-Blackwater security guard convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007.

The court’s 119-page per curiam opinion also ordered that three of Nicholas Slatten’s former colleagues be re-sentenced for their convictions in the high-profile case.

The three-judge panel said Slatten, who was sentenced to life in prison, should have had a separate trial from his his former colleagues, and that he should have been allowed to introduce evidence that he did not fire the first shot.

The court went on to says that Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, who were all convicted of manslaughter and other offenses related to the incident, should be re-sentenced because their 30-year prison terms were too long.

The appeals panel also threw out one of Liberty’s convictions for attempted manslaughter.

The four guards opened fire on the Iraqis, including women and children, on Sept. 16, 2007 at Nisur Square in Baghdad. Shortly before the violence, a  heavily armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy the men were in had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats.

In addition to the 14 dead, another 17 Iraqis were wounded.

All four men was convicted in October 2014.

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