BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:20 P.M.) – U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a number of pardons during his last days in office, including four contractors for the Blackwater Group, which operated in Iraq during the war (2003-2010).
According to CNN, the four Blackwater guards — Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard — were convicted by a federal jury in 2014 after a lengthy trial that saw some 30 witnesses travel from Iraq to testify against them. Prosecutors accused the men of illegally unleashing “powerful sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers on innocent men, women and children.”
The court found that the four were among seven Blackwater employees that opened fire on Nusoor Square traffic in Baghdad, killing 17 people in the process.
An investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation later found that 14 of the deaths were unjustified, according to rules of engagement for private security contractors.
The Iraqi government has since denounced Trump’s move, stating that the “seriousness of the committed crimes” had been ignored by the White House and was in contradiction to the Trump administration’s declared ‘commitment’ to human rights, justice and the rule of law.
The pardon, the statement added, did not take into account the “dignity of the victims and the feelings and rights of their relatives.”
Baghdad will urge Washington to reconsider the decision through diplomatic channels, the statement said.