WASHINGTON (AP) – Lawyers for four former Blackwater security guards convicted in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad plan to appeal, they said. The convictions stemmed from an incident that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe and was denounced by critics as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.
he men claimed self-defence, but federal prosecutors argued that they had shown “a grave indifference” to the carnage their actions would cause. All four were ordered immediately to jail Wednesday.
Their lawyers promised to file appeals. The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.
The federal jury found Nicholas Slatten guilty of first-degree murder, the most serious charge in a multi-count indictment. The three other guards – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – were found guilty of multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun violations. The outcome after a summer-long trial and weeks of jury deliberation appeared to stun the defence.
David Schertler, a lawyer for Heard, said, “The verdict is wrong, it’s incomprehensible. We’re devastated. We’re going to fight it every step of the way. We still think we’re going to win.”
However, one of those struck by gunfire in the shootings, Hassan Jabir, said in Baghdad that “at last we are hearing good news where justice has been achieved and Blackwater will receive their punishment.” He said there are two bullets still inside his body, one in his hand and one in his back, which doctors have said it would be very risky to remove.