Ex-Blackwater guards appeal to Supreme Court

October 22, 2011

Politico on October 21, 2011 released the following:

Posted by Josh Gerstein

“Four American workers for the Blackwater security firm who were accused of massacring civilians in Iraq in 2007 are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstitute a ruling that threw out a criminal case charging the security contractors with manslaughter and weapons violations.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed the case in 2009 on the grounds that the evidence was improperly tainted by statements the men made under threat of losing their jobs. However, in April of this year, a federal appeals court granted the U.S. government’s request to overturn that decision and reinstated the unusual prosecution for crimes allegedly committed outside U.S. territory.

The four guards formerly employed by Blackwater (now Xe) to protect State Department personnel were charged in 2008 with involvement in a shooting incident in Baghdad’s Al Nisur Square in 2007 that left at least 14 Iraqis dead.

Prosecutors said in court filings that the guards fired live ammunition willy-nilly into crowds and some defendants had a pattern of abusive words or actions towards Iraqis. The defense argued in court filings that any shooting took place in response to perceived threats and may not even have come from their clients.

The petition to restore Urbina’s original ruling was filed with the Supreme Court on Monday, but has not been formally docketed while the Court considers whether portions of the petition can be kept under seal. The former Blackwater workers appealing to the high court are Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball. The case against a fifth contractor in the convoy, Nicholas Slatten, was dropped by prosecutors.

A sixth man on the Blackwater crew during the altercation, Jeremy Ridgeway, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. He pled guilty in 2008 to manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges

President Barack Obama announced Friday that nearly all U.S. military personnel will leave Ieave Iraq by the end of 2011. However, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 civilian security personnel under contract to the U.S. government are expected to remain in Iraq, a White House official said.”


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