News / USA

US Lawyers for Blackwater Guards: 2007 Baghdad Shooting was Self-Defense

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.
Reuters
Blackwater security guards faced gunfire from multiple directions and acted in self-defense when they shot into a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, their lawyers told a jury on Wednesday in a case over the killing of 14 unarmed people during the Iraq war.
 
The guards, who were securing a route for a U.S. State Department convoy, made split-second decisions to defend themselves and their team and should not be second guessed years later, even if civilians were killed, two lawyers said.
 
"They did their jobs," said Brian Heberlig, a lawyer for one of the guards, Paul Slough, said. "These men committed no crimes."
 
The trial of the four men formerly with Blackwater unit Raven 23 over the shooting in Nisur Square comes as rebels in Iraq have engaged in a lightning advance to seize main cities across the north of the country.
 
U.S. prosecutors say that the Blackwater guards did not face hostile gunfire and recklessly opened fire and continued shooting even though they did not face any threats. The killings sparked international outrage.
 
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Evan Liberty, right, arrives at federal in Washington, June 11, 2014.Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Evan Liberty, right, arrives at federal in Washington, June 11, 2014.
x
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Evan Liberty, right, arrives at federal in Washington, June 11, 2014.
Former Blackwater Worldwide guard Evan Liberty, right, arrives at federal in Washington, June 11, 2014.

Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty are charged with manslaughter over some of the deaths, attempt to commit manslaughter and a firearms offense that carries a mandatory 30-year sentence.
 
A fourth guard, Nicholas Slatten, is charged with murdering the driver of a white Kia, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia'y. That car's movement toward the Blackwater convoy prompted the guards to open fire in the belief it could be a car bomb, one of the lawyers said.
 
A federal prosecutor on Tuesday painted a very different picture of Slatten firing the first shots at the Kia and of the car only inching forward after the driver had been hit because he could not keep his foot on the brake pedal.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Patrick Martin at the time told jurors that the majority of the other members of the Blackwater unit would testify that they did not see any threats at Nisur Square. Their testimony is expected later this summer during what is expected to be a four-month-long trial.
 
On Wednesday a lawyer for Heard, David Schertler, told the jury the opposite, that the court would instead hear "overwhelming evidence" of incoming fire.
 
Logs of real-time reports from the incident, which lasted less than half an hour, showed the guards believed they were under attack, Schertler said.
 
A report from 12:12 pm, for example, one minute after the convoy locked down the square, warned of multiple insurgents and small arms fire, according to logs that he showed the jury.
 
The guards are charged under a U.S. law that covers contractors who support Defense Department missions. Since the Blackwater unit was working for the State Department, the jury will also decide whether the law applies to them.
 
Blackwater Worldwide is now known as Academi and is based in McLean, Virginia.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid