US court upends murder conviction of Blackwater contractor
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a former Blackwater security contractor. The court has ordered a new trial for the man who prosecutors said fired the first shots in the 2007 slayings of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic circle in Baghdad.
In a split opinion, the three-judge panel in Washington ruled Friday the trial court erred in 2014 by not allowing Nicholas Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants. The 33-year-old contractor from Tennessee is serving a life sentence. The slayings strained international relations and drew scrutiny of American contractors’ role in the Iraq War.
The ruling orders new sentences for three other contractors who each received 30-year prison terms for manslaughter and firearms convictions.