Former Blackwater guard convicted of murder in Iraq shooting spree

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 35-year-old former Blackwater security guard was found guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday for shooting a civilian at a crowded traffic circle in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in 2007, an incident that drew worldwide condemnation. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of killing Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia'y, one of 14 civilians slain when Blackwater guards opened fire in Nisur Square on Sept. 16, 2007, the U.S.

Reuters December 20, 2018 04:05:52 IST
Former Blackwater guard convicted of murder in Iraq shooting spree

Former Blackwater guard convicted of murder in Iraq shooting spree

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 35-year-old former Blackwater security guard was found guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday for shooting a civilian at a crowded traffic circle in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in 2007, an incident that drew worldwide condemnation.

Nicholas Slatten was convicted of killing Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia'y, one of 14 civilians slain when Blackwater guards opened fire in Nisur Square on Sept. 16, 2007, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement.

Slatten is being held pending sentencing and faces a mandatory life prison term, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

His murder conviction came a year after a federal appeals court vacated his initial 2014 conviction, saying he should have been tried separately from three other Blackwater guards involved in the incident.

Prosecutors allege that Slatten, of Sparta, Tennessee, fired the first shots and intentionally set off a shooting rampage that killed or wounded 31 civilians, beginning with the death of the driver of a white Kia, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia'y, 19. The dead included 10 men, two women and two boys, ages 9 and 11.

The shooting stood out for its brutality even in a city in the grips of a bitter sectarian war, and sparked debate over the role of private security contractors such as Blackwater working for the U.S. government in war zones.

Slatten and his fellow guards were travelling in a heavily armed, four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy and had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats after a nearby car bomb.

At Nisur Square, they opened fire on Iraqis, including women and children, with machine guns and grenade launchers.

The U.S. Justice Department has long pursued accountability for the Nisur Square shooting.

The Justice Department's case against Slatten hinged on him having fired the first shots because of a general animosity toward Iraqis. But some evidence suggested an unnamed co-defendant might have fired the initial shots.

The appeals court also ordered the three other Blackwater guards to be resentenced, saying their 30-year terms were too long. That resentencing is pending, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Slatten had received life in prison in the initial conviction.

Blackwater, which was founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was later sold and now operates as Virginia-based Academi.

(Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Chris Reese)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.