Four guards are set to stand trial for the infamous Blackwater shootings which occurred in 2007. The men were alleged to have opened fire on unarmed Iraqi civilians at Nisoor Square in Baghdad.
The shootings resulted in 14 deaths with at least 18 additional civilians being wounded.
The guards will face charges that include manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and gun violations.
According to the defendants in the case, they were under hostile fire at the time of the shootings. This would make the killing of unarmed Iraqis an unintended consequence of an act of self-defense.
This defense has since been countered with claims by the prosecution that there is evidence to support that the shootings were entirely on purpose.
The Justice Department filing stated that the "evidence tends to establish that the defendants fired at innocent Iraqis not because they actually believed that they were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury, [...] but rather that they unreasonably and recklessly fired at innocent Iraqi civilians because of their low regard for and hostility toward Iraqis."
4 Blackwater contractors, all ex-military, charged w/12+ counts of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter: http://t.co/OfA6JzXFIm
— CSMonitor.com (@csmonitor) October 19, 2013
— Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) March 28, 2014
This includes a supposed statement by Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten. Slatten allegedly wanted to kill as many Iraqi citizens as possible in revenge for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He's also alleged to have boasted about killing Iraqis while in the Army, including an old woman.
Such a negative and hostile mindset prior to the shootings could seriously undermine any defense that the killings were in no way premeditated. It also strongly suggests a desire to kill Iraqis indiscriminately rather than because of any serious threat brought on by specific targets.
Defendants Evan Liberty and Paul Slough are also alleged to have fired weapons into Blackwater armored vehicles prior to the incident. This is said to have been done without aiming the weapons with care or any concern for who they may have put in danger. This reckless behavior would explain an inability to take civilian safety into consideration when opening fire during the shootings.
The trial is set to begin in June.
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