Known as the Nisour Square massacre, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Nicholas Slatten – were part of an armoured convoy that opened fire indiscriminately with machine-guns and grenade launchers on a crowd of unarmed people in Iraq. Prosecutors asserted the heavily armed “Raven 23” Blackwater convoy launched an unprovoked attack using sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers. The US government said in a memorandum filed after the sentencing: “None of the victims was an insurgent, or posed any threat to the Raven 23 convoy”
The pardons reflected Trump’s willingness to turn a blind eye to American service personnel and contractors committing atrocities against civilians.
In 2014, Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and 17 charges of attempted manslaughter, while Slatten, the team’s sniper who was the first to open fire, was convicted of first-degree murder. Slatten was sentenced to life; Slough, Liberty and Heard got 30 years each.
At the sentencing, the US attorney’s office said in a statement: “The sheer amount of unnecessary human loss and suffering attributable to the defendants’ criminal conduct on September 16, 2007, is staggering.”
FBI investigators who visited the scene in the following days described it as the “My Lai massacre of Iraq” – a reference to the infamous slaughter of civilian villagers by US troops during the Vietnam war
Lest we forget, the 14 victims killed by the Blackwater guards on trial were listed as Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, Mahassin Mohssen Kadhum Al-Khazali, Osama Fadhil Abbas, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, Sa’adi Ali Abbas Alkarkh, Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, Ghaniyah Hassan Ali, Ibrahim Abid Ayash, Hamoud Sa’eed Abttan, Uday Ismail Ibrahiem, Mahdi Sahib Nasir and Ali Khalil Abdul Hussein.