Five Blackwater Worldwide guards will surrender to FBI agents in Salt Lake City today for charges related to the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians including children in 2007. The five were indicted by a federal grand jury last week. Also this morning, CBS reports that the trial may take place in Salt Lake.
Reported on CBS.
(AP) The five Blackwater Worldwide guards indicted for a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting are all decorated military veterans who have served in some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots.
According to lawyers for the guards, the men are: Donald Ball, a former Marine from Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, a former Marine from Knoxville, Tenn.; Evan Liberty, a former Marine from Rochester, N.H.; Nick Slatten, a former Army sergeant from Sparta, Tenn.; and Paul Slough, an Army veteran from Keller, Texas. [snip]
Following the shooting, Blackwater became the subject of congressional hearings in Washington and insurgent propaganda videos in Iraq.
An Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said Baghdad welcomed any attempt to “hold the criminals accountable for their crime.”
In 2007, the U.S. State Department granted limited immunity to the guards in exchange for their statements.
In each of the statements, the guards begin by saying “I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry,” and that, “I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001.” [snip]
The immunity deal was granted in the immediate aftermath of the shooting by State Department officials in Iraq who were under intense pressure to quickly explain what happened in the face of allegations by Iraqi officials that the contractors murdered civilians in cold blood.
News of the immunity deal caught State Department officials in Washington off guard. “If anyone gave such immunity it was done so without consulting senior leadership at State,” a senior State Department official initially told ABC News. [A] State Department spokesman . . . said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is determined to hold anybody guilty of wrongdoing accountable.