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8 Dec, 2008 20:21

U.S. security guards in Iraq charged with manslaughter

U.S. prosecutors have announced that manslaughter charges are being brought against a group of American security guards accused of killing unarmed civilians in Iraq last year. Five men are accused of using machine guns and grenade launches against the loc

They were charged with 14 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of attempted manslaughter.

The indicted guards are Donald Ball, a former Marine from West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tennessee; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, New Hampshire; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tennessee and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas.

The incident occurred on September 16, 2007 in Baghdad's busy Nisoor Square. Following a car bombing elsewhere in the city, the heavily armed Blackwater convoy sought to shut down the intersection. Prosecutors said the convoy violated an order not to leave the U.S.-controlled Green Zone.

An Iraqi government investigation concluded that the guards fired without provocation. The U.S. military and the FBI, for their part, found that the guards were the only ones to open fire on that day.

Iraqi officials have said as many as 17 people were killed in the incident, but U.S. officials confirmed only 14 deaths.