Security guards for private US contractor guilty of manslaughter for notorious 2007 incident that left 17 dead in Baghdad
© Ali Yussef/AFP/Getty Images
A burnt car on the site where Blackwater guards who were escorting US embassy officials opened fire in 2007
Three security guards working for the private US contractor Blackwater have been found guilty of the manslaughter of a group of unarmed civilians at a crowded Baghdad traffic junction in one of the darkest incidents of the Iraq war.
A fourth, Nicholas Slatten, was found guilty of one charge of first-degree murder. All face the likelihood of lengthy prison sentences after unanimous verdicts on separate weapons charges related to the incident.
The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.
But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.
Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard - guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.
The fourth defendant, Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence.