Monday, Dec 22, 2014

FBI details 2007 Blackwater killings

File photo shows an Iraqi traffic policeman inspecting a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq. (Source: AP) File photo shows an Iraqi traffic policeman inspecting a car destroyed by a Blackwater security detail in al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, Iraq. (Source: AP)
Washington | Posted: July 11, 2014 10:21 am

Blackwater guards fired dozens of shots into cars and people, an FBI expert has testified, in an example of the brutality of the 2007 killings that left 14 Iraqis dead in Baghdad.

Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten appeared dressed in suits and ties before a federal court in Washington yesterday, as the second trial in the case entered its fifth week.

Slatten, 32, is charged with the first degree murder of a civilian. He faces life in prison if convicted. Slough, Liberty and Heard are accused of voluntary manslaughter of the 13 other victims.

All four have pleaded not guilty.

The Blackwater employees were guarding a US diplomatic convoy when they opened fire, killing 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians according to an Iraqi investigation, or 14, according to the US count. The hail of gunfire also wounded 18 people.

Six of the guards had started the shootings.

FBI expert Douglas Murphy said he travelled to the site of the killings twice to examine the cars involved in the shootings.

As photographs were projected in the courtroom, he spoke of “significant damage” to the 11 vehicles he observed in March 2008 and June 2009.

Murphy pointed to a white KIA riddled with bullet holes, including 29 in the front alone. There was also a Volkswagen that had 13 bullet holes on the driver’s side alone.

In other cases, there was nothing left to investigate because “the entire vehicle has been burnt, the seats are no longer there, the car has no window,” the expert added.

Asked about the weapons and ammunition used by the four defendants that day, Marine expert Shelby Lasater stressed the grenades used are “designed to penetrate armor and to cause casualties or kill.”

“It mushrooms out, it will blow up in a circle and back,” he added, noting the grenades could explode across a 540-foot (165-metre) radius.

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