Blackwater trial for 2007 shooting in Iraq begins closing arguments

Four former security guards for Blackwater Worldwide, which was renamed Academi in 2011, have been facing trial over the past couple of months in the U.S. for the 2007 shooting deaths of 14 civilians in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to ABC News, a federal prosecutor told a jury Wednesday the four in question “unleashed a hail of gunfire” into a crowd of Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in the heart of Baghdad.  Besides the 14 who were killed, 18 others suffered from various wounds related to the shooting, none of which were fatal.

Many of the victims were shot in the back as they tried to flee the Square, noted federal prosecutor Anothony Asuncion.  Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, and Nicholas Slatten are said to have fired into the crowd which caused the exodus from the Square.

Slough, Heard, and Liberty are facing charges of manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, and firearms related offenses, all of which could carry upwards of 30 years, according to the Raw Story.

Slatten is being charged separately for the shooting death of Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y who was driving a white Kia in the area.  Prosecutors are saying the shooting death of Al Rubia’y is what prompted the civilians to flee in the first place, causing the incident to unfold.

The jury has heard from some of the family members of the victims who were killed.  One witness had recounted how his nine-year-old son’s brains had fallen out at his feet during the incident.

According to Reuters, a member of Blackwater unit Raven 23 also told jurors how Slatten had called all Iraqis “animals” and how he had boasted of shooting a man in the head, turning his head into “a canoe.”

Testimony will be heard from the defense later this week and deliberations are expected to begin next week.

Charges against Heard and Liberty concerning the death of five civilians in the incident have already been dismissed.