Ex-guards to get lengthy prison sentences for Iraq shootings - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Ex-guards to get lengthy prison sentences for Iraq shootings

Posted:

WASHINGTON (AP)- A federal judge says he won't deviate from the lengthy mandatory minimum sentences faced by four former Blackwater security guards for their role in a 2007 shooting that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than a dozen others.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday rejected a defense motion to impose lesser sentences on the four, as well as a motion by prosecutors to increase the penalties.

That means that former guard Nicholas Slatten appears likely to be sentenced to life in prison for his first-degree murder conviction, and that three others - Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard - appear headed for 30-year terms for multiple counts of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.

Lamberth deferred formally imposing the sentences while hearing arguments from both sides on the sentencing. Defense lawyers argued for mercy but prosecutors said the men have never shown remorse or accepted responsibility.

All four were convicted in October for their involvement in the killings that caused an international uproar in Nisoor Square, a crowded traffic circle in downtown Baghdad. The legal fight over the killings has spanned years.

Prosecutors have described the shooting as an unprovoked ambush of civilians, though defense lawyers countered that the men were targeted with gunfire and Iraqi police, and shot back in self-defense.

The defense argued for mercy Monday by saying that decades-long sentences would be unconstitutionally harsh punishments for men who operated in a stressful, war-torn environment, and who have proud military careers and close family ties.

The firearms convictions alone carry mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years in prison. The government sought sentences far beyond that, partly because it said the men have never shown remorse or accepted responsibility.

The sentencing is unlikely to bring an end to the legal wrangling, which began even before the guards were first charged in 2008. A judge later dismissed the case before trial, but a federal appeals court revived it and the guards were indicted again in October 2013.

Even before the trial began, defense lawyers had identified multiple issues as likely forming the basis of an appeal, including whether there was proper legal jurisdiction to charge them in the first place.

The statute under which they were charged, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, covers the overseas crimes of Defense Department civilian employees, military contractors and others who are supporting the American war mission. But defense lawyers note that the Blackwater defendants worked as State Department contractors and were in Iraq to provide diplomatic, not military, services.

The legal fighting continued in the days leading up to sentencing, too, with defense lawyers seeking Friday to postpone the hearing after receiving new information - a victim impact statement from a trial witness - that they said was favorable to the defense. But Lamberth denied the request, saying there was no need to delay the sentencing.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Memorial Day Observed in Kent County

    Memorial Day Observed in Kent County

    Monday, May 29 2017 7:18 PM EDT2017-05-29 23:18:20 GMT
    Monday, May 29 2017 7:18 PM EDT2017-05-29 23:18:20 GMT
    World War II Veteran Warner Schlaupitz applauds during a Memorial Day service in Dover. (Tom Lehman/WBOC)World War II Veteran Warner Schlaupitz applauds during a Memorial Day service in Dover. (Tom Lehman/WBOC)
    KENT COUNTY, Del. -- Light rain and drizzle didn't stop hundreds from participating in Memorial Day events in Kent County ON Monday, as veterans and families of service members honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. A parade kicked off in the morning along Main Street in Smyrna as veterans and families made their way to the Smyrna Municipal Park for an annual memorial service. The pageantry was meaningful for Artie Sedmont, a Vietnam War veteran f...More
    KENT COUNTY, Del. -- Light rain and drizzle didn't stop hundreds from participating in Memorial Day events in Kent County ON Monday, as veterans and families of service members honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. A parade kicked off in the morning along Main Street in Smyrna as veterans and families made their way to the Smyrna Municipal Park for an annual memorial service. The pageantry was meaningful for Artie Sedmont, a Vietnam War veteran f...More
  • Statue to Recognize Historic Delaware Figure

    Statue to Recognize Historic Delaware Figure

    Monday, May 29 2017 6:43 PM EDT2017-05-29 22:43:02 GMT
    Monday, May 29 2017 6:44 PM EDT2017-05-29 22:44:49 GMT
    DSU will build a statue for the university's former president, Dr. Jerome Holland.DSU will build a statue for the university's former president, Dr. Jerome Holland.

    Delaware State University is inviting the community to take part in the recognition of a historic Delaware figure, Dr. Jerome Holland, who navigated the then-Delaware State College through its most challenging decade and saved the state’s only historically black institution of higher education from possible closure in the 1950s.

    More

    Delaware State University is inviting the community to take part in the recognition of a historic Delaware figure, Dr. Jerome Holland, who navigated the then-Delaware State College through its most challenging decade and saved the state’s only historically black institution of higher education from possible closure in the 1950s.

    More
  • Many Gathered on Bethany's Boardwalk for a Memorial Day Service

    Many Gathered on Bethany's Boardwalk for a Memorial Day Service

    Monday, May 29 2017 3:37 PM EDT2017-05-29 19:37:23 GMT
    Monday, May 29 2017 3:37 PM EDT2017-05-29 19:37:23 GMT

    The Town of Bethany Beach held their Memorial Day service Monday morning to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

    More

    The Town of Bethany Beach held their Memorial Day service Monday morning to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices