Four former Blackwater military contractors who were convicted in a case involving a firefight that they started in a square in Iraq that left 17 people were sentenced to very strong prison terms ranging from 30 years for three of them to life in prison for a fourth.
One former employee of the private Blackwater Worldwide security company was sentenced Monday to life in prison and three others to 30 years each behind bars for their roles in a 2007 mass shooting in Baghdad that left 17 people dead.
A federal jury convicted the four in October after a lengthy trial that saw some 30 witnesses travel from Iraq to testify against the security contractors. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashed “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Blackwater sniper Nicholas Slatten to a term of life in prison, mandatory for his first-degree murder conviction. Blackwater workers Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were sentenced to 30 year each, plus one day.
Slough was convicted of 13 counts of voluntary manslaughter, 17 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense. The jury convicted Liberty of eight counts of voluntary manslaughter, 12 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense. Heard was found guilty of six counts of voluntary manslaughter, 11 counts of attempted manslaughter and a firearms offense.
This is a good result, if for no other reason than that it might make it more difficult for these mercenary corporations to attract employees. Far too often, they have been essentially lawless and unaccountable in war zones.