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US to retry former Blackwater guard for murder in 2007 Baghdad massacre

This June 11, 2014, file photo shows former Blackwater Worldwide guard Nicholas Slatten leaving federal court in Washington after the start of his first-degree murder trial.

CLIFF OWEN/AP

By SPENCER S. HSU | The Washington Post | Published: November 21, 2017

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government will retry a former Blackwater Worldwide security guard after a federal appeals court threw out his first-degree murder conviction in shootings that killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007, prosecutors told a federal judge Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Martin of the District of Columbia said the government would seek a retrial of Nicholas A. Slatten, 33, of Sparta, Tennessee, as early as May, anticipating a six-week case with 50 witnesses, including about 15 from Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth scheduled a Dec. 14 hearing to set a trial date and decide whether to conditionally release Slatten from federal prison in Sumterville, Florida, where he had been serving a mandatory life sentence.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Aug. 4 tossed out Slatten's 2014 conviction on one count of murder, saying the trial court erred in not allowing him to be tried separately from three co-defendants, even though one of them said he, not Slatten, fired the shots that killed the first civilian victim, leading a team of U.S. security contractors to open fire indiscriminately on vehicles and pedestrians.

The court denied a government request for rehearing before the full court on Nov. 6.
 

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