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.
The men are charged following the shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians in a busy Baghdad intersection. Documents in the case remain sealed but are expected to become public Monday, when the men have been ordered to surrender.
"These are indictments that never should have been brought," Mark Hulkower, a lawyer for Slough, said Saturday. "Paul Slough has served his country honorably for many years and has done nothing wrong. I look forward to clearing his name."
The character of the five men will be a critical part of the case. Prosecutors are expected to describe the men as trigger-happy security guards who opened fire unprovoked. Defense lawyers will describe the men as honorable veterans who, after completing their military service, joined Blackwater to protect U.S. diplomats overseas.
Young children were among the victims of the shooting, which strained relations between the U.S. and Iraq. 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."
The Iraqi government, he said, has retained a law firm to pursue compensation for the families of the victims.
The Justice Department obtained the indictment late Thursday and got it sealed.
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