Ex-Blackwater guard gets June retrial date for 2007 Iraq massacre

U.S. forces stand guard at al-Nisoor Square, which witnessed the killing of 14 Iraqis when Blackwater guards escorting U.S. Embassy officials opened fire in a Baghdad neighborhood on September 24, 2007. On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge set a retrial date for a man accused in the crime. File Photo by Mogammed Jalil/EPA


23 December 2017 | Susan McFarland| UPI

Dec. 23 (UPI) — A former Blackwater Worldwide security contractor accused of killing at least 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians will remain in prison while he awaits his June retrial.

In a court filing Friday, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District of Columbia set a jury trial date of June 11 for Nicholas Slatten, 33, of Sparta, Tenn.

Slatten, a sniper working for the private security company, was sentenced to life in prison for the killings. In August, a federal appeals court overturned Slatten’s murder conviction and allowed for a new trial.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that during the 2014 trial of Slatten, Lamberth should have allowed testimony from a co-defendent who said he fired the first shots in the massacre, not Slatten.

Additionally, the appeals panel said Slatten should have been tried separately from the other three guards involved — Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough, who were were convicted on manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges, while Slatten was found guilty of murder.

Slatten has been in prison in Sumterville, Fla., serving a mandatory life sentence since his October 2014 conviction for the killings in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007.

Slatten’s attorneys had asked that he be released with restrictions on travel and firearms possession while waiting for the retrial.

Lamberth said after hearing weeks of testimony during the trial, Slatten is a “danger to the community” and now that the defendant knows evidence presented at the first trial was strong enough for a jury to convict, he is “a greater flight risk.”

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