Washington: US President Donald Trump has granted pardons to four former contractors of a private security company who were convicted over the killing of 14 civilians, including a nine-year-old boy in Baghdad in 2007.
Blackwater, a private security contractor company, was hired to protect US personnel in Iraq. It was accused by the Iraqi government of using excessive force in Baghdad.
Four contractors were convicted
The four convicts are Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard.
The four were among 19 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, 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.
Reaction of Iraqi government
On Wednesday, Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued official statement in this regard. “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.