A former security agent for the American mercenary group Blackwater has been found guilty of murder for his role in a massacre of unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
Nicholas Slatten, 35, was convicted of first-degree murder by a federal jury in Washington on Wednesday 19 December after five days of deliberations.
Slatten was convicted of killing Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, 19, a medical student who was one of at least 14 civilians killed by Blackwater agents in Baghdad’s Nisour Square on 16 September 2007.
While escorting a diplomatic convoy, Blackwater agents began shooting in the busy square with machine guns, grenade launchers and sniper rifles without provocation, killing more than a dozen civilians and seriously injuring 18. The Iraqi government says the death toll was significantly higher.
The US attorney’s office presented testimony from 34 eye witnesses during the trial, including four who came to the United States from Iraq to testify in court.
According to the U.S. government’s evidence, Slatten who is from Tennessee, was the first to open fire.
Whilst no date has been set for his sentencing, the US attorney’s office said the murder charge calls for a mandatory life sentence in prison.
It was Slatten’s third trial on the murder charges. His first conviction was thrown out and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision at his second trial.
Slatten was one of four Blackwater agents who were found guilty in 2014.
He was originally sentenced to life in prison while the other three were given 30-year prison sentences
An appeals court has ordered that the three other Blackwater agents be resentenced.
They are currently in custody pending resentencing.