Finally, the seemingly untouchable mercenaries of Blackwater are facing some justice for their actions.
In a surprising verdict, 4 Blackwater contractors received lengthy prison sentences for their part in the horrific massacre of unarmed citizens in Baghdad in 2007.
Nicholas A. Slatten, a former Army sniper from Tennessee, was convicted of murder for firing the first fatal shots. Three others — Dustin L. Heard, also of Tennessee; Evan S. Liberty of New Hampshire; and Paul A. Slough of Texas — were convicted of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and the use of a machine gun in a violent crime. The last charge carried a mandatory 30-year prison sentence under a law passed during the crack cocaine epidemic.
Mr. Slatten was sentenced to life in prison, and Mr. Heard, Mr. Liberty and Mr. Slough to 30 years. The men are all in their 30s. (source)
The convicted contractors were largely unrepentant. When given a chance to speak, Heard said.“I am very sorry for the loss of life. But I cannot say in all honesty to the court that I believe I did anything wrong.” Slattern concurred. He told the judge, “The verdict is wrong. You know I am innocent, sir.”
However, witness, including other Blackwater employees and Iraqis who were present during the massacre, painted a a different picture with their testimonies.
At the trial, Iraqi witnesses testified that the Blackwater contractors had fired unprovoked on unarmed civilians who had been going about their day in the crowded intersection. Former Blackwater employees who were in the convoy of armored trucks that day also testified against their colleagues. (source)
Another guard still awaits sentencing. Jeremy P. Ridgeway pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and took the stand to testify against the men sentenced today.
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