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Charges Unveiled in Blackwater Shooting

POSTED: 11:40 AM ET, 12/ 8/2008 by Derek Kravitz


Blackwater Worldwide security guard Paul Slough, his wife, and his attorney, Mark Hulkower, right, arrive to federal court in Salt Lake City, Monday, Dec. 8, 2008. Slough was one of five Blackwater Worldwide security guards who surrendered Monday in an investigation into a deadly 2007 shooting in a busy Baghdad intersection. (AP Photo / Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

A 35-count indictment against five Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 unnarmed civilians at a busy Baghdad intersection in 2007 was unsealed today, charging all of the men with voluntary manslaughter; attempt to commit manslaughter; and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

The charges, which were announced announced at an afternoon news conference in Washington, could net the guards mandatory 30-year prison sentences. A sixth guard who has not been named has already struck a plea agreement, the Associated Press reports.

The Sept. 16, 2007, shooting in Baghdad left 17 people dead and 20 others injured after an armed standoff between Blackwater and Iraqi security forces.

The shooting occurred shortly after noon in Nisoor Square as three Blackwater teams escorted a military unit back to Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone. A car bomb detonated, followed by the armed standoff. Witnesses said that the Blackwater guards opened fire without provocation.

The indicted guards are Donald Ball, a former Marine from West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn.; and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas.

Attorneys for the guards are already trying to get the case moved to Utah, where a jury pool could be decidedly more conservative than Washington. But in a potential sign of things to come, as the men arrived at the Salt Lake City courthouse this morning, an unidentified man yelled "babykillers," according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

A spokesman for the Iraqi government told the BBC that officials there welcomed any attempt to hold what he called "criminals accountable for their crimes."

By Derek Kravitz |  December 8, 2008; 11:40 AM ET
Previous: Panel Urges Wiretap Probe, Hospital Oversight, Cyber Security Czar Proposed | Next: Report: White House Deleted 'Coalition of the Willing' Lists

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Please email us to report offensive comments.



Rumsfeld should be on trial for contracting out the Military's job and for gross negligence and incompetence.

Posted by: thebobbob | December 8, 2008 12:36 PM

Silly mercenaries. If they think they can change venue simply by traveling from Texas, Tennessee, New Hampshire or anywhere else to surrender in Utah, then they'd better find themselves some better lawyers (and keep in mind, guys, that if Blackwater hired these lawyers for you, their first allegiance is likely to who is paying them - Blackwater - and not to you).

The case has already been assigned to a judge in D.C., where the indictments were brought and where prosecutors are located, so any convenience factors won't cut it (especially since all but one of the mercenaries traveled to Utah to surrender). And Blackwater's lawyer already undermined his own "interests of justice" argument by stating that "any jury anywhere" would find his clients not guilty. Well, if so, then why not submit to the venue where the charges were brought? In the meantime, hiding in Utah will only further inflame the jury pool in DC, where they will ultimately be tried and likely convicted. Perhaps they'd prefer to be tried in Baghdad, where the crimes allegedly occurred?

Posted by: ched | December 8, 2008 1:00 PM

Their problem is being stupid enough to fall for stupid ideology of being "above the law".

This is part of the Bush Ideology, meaning rather, "stupidity".

Bush is the leader and responsible entity in all this, along with Cheney,Condolezza, to name a few, and all those ego-maniac collaborators.

Bush just bought another big house where to refuge his conscience. But he'll always carry it, no matter where he hides.

Posted by: ElMugroso | December 8, 2008 2:18 PM

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