Five Blackwater security guards will face 14 charges of manslaughter and 20 charges of attempted manslaughter in a September 2007 incident in Baghdad. According to prosecutors a sixth guard pled guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge and other related charges.
The guards are accused of shooting at innocent, surrendering Iraqis and launching a grenade into a girls’ school in Baghdad. According to US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor “none of the victims of this shooting was armed. None of them was an insurgent.”
Witnesses say the contractors fired on women and children unprovoked after they decided that a slow moving Kia sedan might be a car bomb. Defense attorney Paul Cassell called it a “pure and simple case of self-defense.” Relatives of the slain civilians called for the guards to face the death penalty over the killings.
The trial will be complex, relying on a law that covers US military contractors, though the guards were contracted by the State Department at the time. Adding to the confusion, the State Department reportedly offered immunity to the guards during their own investigation of the incident.