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Blackwater guard gets new trial for 2007 Baghdad massacre

By Danielle Haynes
Blackwater guard gets new trial for 2007 Baghdad massacre
U.S. forces stand guard at al-Nisoor Square in Baghdad, where 14 Iraqis died when Blackwater guards escorting U.S. Embassy officials started shooting on September 24, 2007. Friday, an appeals court granted a new trial for one of the guards convicted in the massacre. File Photo by Mogammed Jalil/EPA

Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A former Blackwater Worldwide security guard sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of at least 14 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad in 2007 won a new trial Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that during the 2014 trial of Nicholas Slatten, Judge Royce Lamberth should have allowed testimony from a co-defendent who said he fired the first shots in the massacre, not Slatten.

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Additionally, the appeals panel said Slatten should have been tried separately from the other three guards involved -- Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty and Paul Slough.

Heard, Liberty and Slough were convicted on manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges, while Slatten was found guilty of murder.

The American security contractors fired machine guns and grenades into noon traffic in al-Nisoor Square after one of them falsely claimed that their convoy was under the threat of a car bomber.

Slatten received a life sentence, while Heard, Liberty and Slough each received 30 years in prison.

The appeals court also ruled that the 30-year sentences for Heard, Liberty and Slough constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The panel ordered Lamberth to resentence the men.

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