A Blackwater helicopter flies over a bust of Saddam Hussein near Baghdad’s Republican Palace in 2007.
A federal judge let five Blackwater Worldwide security contractors off the hook Thursday, dropping all charges against them in a 2007 case in which 14 Iraqi civilians were killed and 20 wounded during a Baghdad shooting. The Justice Department wasn’t thrilled with this outcome, and a DoJ spokesman told The Washington Post that his colleagues are “still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options.” —KA
The Washington Post:
In a 90-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the government violated the guards’ rights by using their immunized statements to help the investigation. The ruling comes after a lengthy set of hearings that examined whether federal prosecutors and agents improperly used such statements that the guards gave to State Department investigators following the shooting on Sept. 16, 2007.
“The explanations offered by prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants’ compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility,” Urbina wrote.
[...] The five guards—Paul Slough, Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball—are charged with voluntary manslaughter and weapons violations in the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 20 others.