Saturday, August 5, 2017

US court throws out Blackwater murder conviction

usa Blackwater firm
A U.S. appeals court on Friday threw out the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater contractor who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killings of at least 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

In its majority opinion, the court also reordered the sentencing of three other individuals related to the Baghdad traffic circle shootings that sparked concern about the accountability of American security personnel operating in Iraq.

The court ruled a lower court "abused its discretion" when it prevented Nicholas Slatten from being tried separately from three other co-defendants, saying it is overturning "his conviction and remands for a new trial".

It is unclear if Slatten will be retried. Bill Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, told Anadolu Agency the attorney's office "is reviewing the opinion and has no further comment at this time.”

The appeals court said the 30-year sentences handed down to Slatten's co-defendants - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard - amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Constitution's Eighth Amendment.

The four were working as security contractors in Iraq for the controversial firm Blackwater, which was rebranded as Xe Services amid international uproar over the 2007 Nisour Square massacre of civilians, including women and children. The company was later sold and renamed Academi.

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