On September 16, 2007, Blackwater contractors were escorting a US embassy envoy through Nisour Square in Baghdad, Iraq. Firearms were discharged by the contractors after they reportedly suspected that a vehicle carrying explosives was approaching the envoy. However, no explosives were found in the vehicle. An FBI investigation later established that at least 14 of the 17 people who died were killed without cause.
Lamberth sentenced Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Dustin Heard to 14, 15 and 13 years in prison, respectively. The three ex-Blackwater contractors were handed 30-year sentences in 2015 after being found guilty a year earlier. However, they appealed their cases in 2017.
“The defendants' orders were for self-defense, and they were firing wildly into cars. [Some of the victims were] turning around in the other direction. There was just wild shooting that could never be condoned by any court,” Lamberth said at a hearing Thursday, the US Attorney's Office in Washington, DC, reported.
“[The] government found and exposed and delivered to the world a trial where the truth of what happened in Nisour Square came out and was there for the world and the public to see, and I think the government of the United States deserves great credit for how the truth came out in this case and in this trial,” he added.
Another former Blackwater employee, Nicholas Slatten, was also sentenced to life in prison for murder in August for firing the first shot against the civilians in Nisour Square. Slatten was first charged in 2008, but the case was thrown out, Sputnik reported. He was first sentenced to life in prison in 2015, but that ruling didn’t stick, as the US Court of Appeals decided in 2017 that Slatten deserved a new trial.