Iraq urges US to reconsider pardons for Blackwater guards

The Iraqi government has urged the US to reconsider its decision of granting pardons to four former contractors of private security company Blackwater who were convicted over the 2007 killing of 14 civilians in Baghdad.

In an official statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was following up on US President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon the contractors who carried out the massacre September 16, 2007, in Baghdad’s al-Nisour Square, which caused international denouncement, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The Ministry believes that this decision did not take into account the seriousness of the crime committed, and unfortunately ignores the dignity of the victims as well as the feelings and rights of their families,” the statement said.

The Ministry will follow up on the issue with the government of the US through diplomatic channels to urge it to reconsider the pardon decision, the statement added.

Blackwater was a private security contractor company hired to protect US personnel in Iraq.

It was accused by the Iraqi government of using excessive force in Baghdad.

The four convicts are Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard.

Slatten, Slough, Liberty and Heard were among 19 Blackwater private security contractors assigned to guard a convoy of four heavily-armoured vehicles carrying US personnel.

According to the US Justice Department, at about noon that day several of the contractors opened fire in and around Nisoor Square, a busy roundabout that was immediately adjacent to the heavily-fortified Green Zone.

When they stopped shooting, at least 14 Iraqi civilians were dead – 10 men, two women and two boys, aged nine and 11.

latten was found guilty of committing first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2019.

Following a retrial, Slough, Liberty and Heard subsequently had their sentences reduced to 15, 14 and 12 years, respectively.