Three former Blackwater security guards involved in the shooting spree in Baghdad, which killed more than a dozen people in 2007, have had their prison sentences reduced by half or more, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
The three Americans – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – were sentenced to 15, 14 and 12.5 years respectively in Washington on Thursday, according to a statement released by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
The offenders originally sentenced to 30 years each, had been members of a Blackwater team named Raven 23, which worked on contractual basis to provide security for the US State Department personnel in Iraq.
The case, which is now more than a decade old happened in Baghdad’s crowded Nisur Square, and also led to heightened acrimony of the American presence.
“The defendants’ orders were for self-defense, and they were firing wildly into cars,” Judge Royce Lambert said while handing the sentence, noting that some of the victims were turning around in the other direction.
“There was just wild shooting that could never be condoned by any court,” the Justice Department quoted him as saying.
The Blackwater security guards who opened fire, said during their trial back in 2014 that they acted out of self-defense to the subversive fire. Yet the explanation sounded nothing, but a cliché, because it left as many as 14 Iraqis dead while at 17 least injured in the process.
The three Americans were, thus, convicted of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and a firearm offense.
A fourth colleague, Nicholas Slatten, also involved in the attacks, was said to have fired the first shots and convicted of first-degree murder and given life term in prison. However, the sentences were not deemed as valid by the appeals court, which ruled that the men should have been tried as separate entities.
Slatten was then retired, yet back in August he was again given life imprisonment.
Blackwater, was founded by Erik Prince, the brother of the current Education Secretary Betsy Devos. The firm was renamed Xe in 2009 and became Academi two years later. Erik Prince and his firm Blackwater are named in several controversies. Prince was part of the infamous meeting held in Seychelles concerning the 2016 US Presidential election meddling scandal while he provided Colombian mercenaries to UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed under a contract worth $529 million through his firm Blackwater.
Last updated on April 11th, 2019 Erik Prince, ex-Navy SEAL officer and founder of security services