Salt Lake City, UT (AHN) – Five former U.S. soldiers and security guards of U.S. diplomats in Iraq were arrested Monday in Salt Lake City, Utah and officially charged with manslaughter for killing 17 Iraqi civilians last year.
Ex-Blackwater Worldwide employees Donald Ball, 26, of West Valley City, Utah; Dustin Heard, 27, of Knoxville, Tennessee.; Evan Liberty, 26, of Rochester, New Hampshire; Nick Slatten, 25, of Sparta, Tennessee.; and Paul Slough, 29, of Keller, Texas appeared with their lawyers at the federal courthouse on S. Main St. for the initial afternoon hearing.
A sixth guard who turned state witness, Jeremy P. Ridgeway, 35, of California, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted manslaughter charges on Friday as part of a plea bargain.
In Washington, D.C., Patrick Rowan, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, announced in a press conference the federal grand jury indictments against the six guards hired by the U.S. State Department through Blackwater. They will be tried at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Jan. 6, 2009 for allegedly firing on Iraqi civilians at a Baghdad square resulting in the deaths of 14 people and injuring of 20 others.
The guards claimed they were fired upon by insurgents and returned fire.