The US Supreme Court has turned down appeals filed by the former staffers from North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, a private security firm contracted by the US government to cater to the security needs of US diplomats working in war-torn Iraq, according to The Guardian.
The crimes in question occurred as the team was providing security to a US official in a convoy in 2007, near Nisour Square in Baghdad, where at the time there was a constant threat of car bomb explosions and other attacks. The men opened direct fire on an unarmed crowd, including several children and a number of motorists, with the barrage killing 14 and wounding no less than 17 people, which subsequently sparked a furious international outcry.
Separately, the incident prompted a large-scale debate on the role of bodyguards outsourced by the US government to work in conflict zones, as well as the place where the men in question should be tried – the US or Iraq.
One of the convicts, Nicholas Slatten, who reportedly was the first to open fire, is going to be retried at the beginning of June, after the court ruled last summer that he should be tried separately due to the especially gruesome nature of the crime he had committed. In 2014, Slatten, having been convicted of first-degree murder, was given a life sentence by a Washington court, whereas the other three were each sentenced to 30 years in jail on manslaughter and other charges.
An appeals court earlier ruled that Slatten should be retried, where he is expected to offer proof that he was not the first to mow down the Iraqi motorists and unarmed civilians. The other three convicts are also due to question their prison sentences in the near future. Defense lawyers argued earlier that since the guards were not being used in a military capacity, they cannot be charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.