Five Blackwater Worldwide guards have been told to surrender to the FBI today (2008-12-08) to face federal manslaughter and assault charges connected to the shooting deaths of 17 civilians at a traffic circle in Iraq last year. A sixth is reportedly negotiating a plea deal.
The shootings took place near Nisour Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007.
Blackwater, based in North Carolina, has said its guards acted lawfully and in self-defence after their motorcade came under fire in the chaotic incident. The company has co-operated in the investigation.
An American prosecutor working on the case against the five Blackwater security guards is in Iraq and will be meeting with victims’ families this week.
This video is from ABC News with Charlie Gibson and Brian Ross (2008-12-05):
Jeremy Ridgeway, one of the Blackwater guards involved in the shooting deaths of the Iraqi citizens, agreed to plead guilty to one count of manslaughter, attempt to commit murder, and aiding and abetting. He agreed to testify against the other guards as part of a secret plea deal negotiated last Friday (2008-12-05).
The federal investigation revealed that two of the guards did most of the shooting and are expected to face either murder or manslaughter charges. These two are Dustin Heard, of Tennessee, a former Marine who joined Blackwater in 2004; and Paul Slough, of Texas, a former U.S. Army infantry soldier who joined Blackwater in 2006.
Also involved are: Donald Ball, a former Marine Corporal from West Valley City, Utah; Evan Liberty, a former Marine who guarded US Embassies in Egypt and Guatemala from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from the 82 Airborne from Sparta, Tennessee.
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