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22 Okt 2014

Zoe Tillman, Legal Times

Blackwater Guards Vow to Appeal Convictions for Iraq Shooting

Former Blackwater security guards convicted Wednesday of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians will challenge the verdict, according to defense lawyers...David Schertler of Washington’s Schertler & Onorato, said the defense would fight the verdict “every step of the way”...Court proceedings over the past year offer hints at the issues that might be raised in the...Court of Appeals...The defense lost on a series of challenges to the indictment and the prosecution’s handling of the case, including:

  • Vindictive prosecution: Slatten’s lawyer, Thomas Connolly, argued that the government’s decision to charge his client with first-degree murder after they could no longer pursue the voluntary manslaughter charges was “vindictive prosecution.”... 
  • Tainted indictment: Defense lawyers argued the new indictment was based on protected statements the guards gave after the shooting. That issue was the basis for a 2009 ruling dismissing the original indictment, which was later reversed.
  • Venue: The defendants argued that the indictment failed to allege facts that supported keeping the case in the District of Columbia.
  • Failure to state an offense: The defendants claimed the indictment didn’t meet the requirements of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act because their employment wasn’t related to supporting the mission of the U.S. Department of Defense.

...Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he applauded the jury’s decision...“Efforts to prosecute those responsible for these shootings have been fraught with difficulties, and the lack of clarity regarding U.S. jurisdiction over these crimes complicated the initial prosecution and investigation. It should not have taken this long for justice to be served,”...[Subscription required]


Part of the following timelines

4 ex-Blackwater guards sentenced by US court over 2007 killings of Iraqi civilians

Blackwater USA lawsuit (re 16 Sep 2007 Baghdad incident)