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Blackwater Guards Found Guilty In Shooting Deaths Of Iraqi Civilians

The guards claimed they acted in self-defense and responded appropriately to the car bomb threat and the sound of incoming AK-47 gunfire, their defense said.

Finally! Glad to hear it:

Seven years after American security contractors killed 14 unarmed Iraqis by firing machine guns and grenades into a Baghdad traffic circle, a jury in Washington on Wednesday convicted all four Blackwater Worldwide guards charged in the incident on at least some of the charges.

The verdicts marked a victory for prosecutors, who argued in a 10-week trial that the defendants fired wildly and out-of-control in a botched security operation after one of them falsely claimed to believe the driver of an approaching vehicle was a car bomber.

The guards claimed they acted in self-defense and responded appropriately to the car bomb threat and the sound of incoming AK-47 gunfire, their defense said.

Overall, defendants were charged with the deaths of 14 Iraqis and the wounding of 17 others at Baghdad’s Nisour Square shortly after noon on Sept. 16, 2007. None was an insurgent

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated 27 days before convicting Nicholas A. Slatten, of Sparta, Tenn., of murder. The panel also convicted Paul A. Slough of Keller, Tex.; Evan S. Liberty of Rochester, N.H.; and Dustin L. Heard of Knoxville, Tenn., who faced manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and firearms charges.

The jury’s verdict marked an end to a years-long quest by prosecutors to bring the case to trial, and a milestone in the government’s efforts to monitor security contractors’ conduct on the battlefield.

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