Four Blackwater Guards Sentenced for 2007 Iraq Attack, One Gets Life

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/ Source: NBC News

Former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten was sentenced to life in prison Monday and three former colleagues got 30 years each for their roles in a Baghdad firefight that left 14 Iraqis dead and 17 others injured in 2007.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Slatten of first-degree murder and the three other guards — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard — of voluntary manslaughter in October.

The Blackwater security team, code-named Raven 23, was assigned to clear the way for a convoy of diplomats traveling through western Baghdad to a meeting with officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development on Sept. 16, 2007, when a car bomb exploded in downtown Baghdad. The 19-member Blackwater team set up a protective blockade, and in an ensuing firefight, they shot at least 31 Iraqis, 14 of whom died.

Slatten "initiated the entire incident" by firing the first shots "without justification," prosecutors said, firing his sniper rifle from a concealed position inside the convoy's command vehicle.

Former Blackwater security guards Nickolas Slatten, second from left, and Donald Ball, third from left, arrived with their lawyers at U.S. District Court before surrendering to authorities in Salt Lake City, Utah, in December 2008.Chris Detrick / Reuters — file


— M. Alex Johnson