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Former Blackwater Guards Sentenced to Prison in 2007 Killings

  • VOA News

FILE - An Iraqi traffic policeman inspecting a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007.

FILE - An Iraqi traffic policeman inspecting a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 25, 2007.

A U.S. federal judge sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison Monday for the 2007 shooting deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

Three other former guards - Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough - were given 30-year prison terms.

Judge Royce Lamberth ignored defense attorneys' pleas for leniency, saying the crimes are serious and the punishment not excessive.

The four were convicted in October of opening fire on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square while guarding a U.S. diplomatic convoy.

FILE - In these various file photos show Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Nicholas Slatten.

FILE - In these various file photos show Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Nicholas Slatten.

Defense attorneys argued the guards came under gunfire and shot back in self-defense. They said the guards were working in a tense, violent and war-torn atmosphere.

Prosecutors say there was no gunfire and that the shootings were unprovoked. They also said none of the guards has shown any regret for the deaths of the civilians, including at least one child.

The shootings outraged Iraqis and many Americans who wondered why the State Department was hiring a private security contractor in a war zone.

North Carolina-based Blackwater was sold and renamed several times. It is now called Academi, based in northern Virginia.

Some information for this report from Reuters.

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