Jury convicts ex-Blackwater guards in 2007 Baghdad killings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sweeping victory for the federal government, a US jury on Wednesday found four former Blackwater guards guilty on nearly every count they faced in connection with the 2007 killings of 14 unarmed Iraqis at a Baghdad traffic circle.

The verdict comes more than seven years after the shooting incident that outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-American sentiment around the world.

Jurors found three of the ex-guards with the private security company, Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, guilty of voluntary manslaughter of Iraqis in the shooting at Nisur Square, where the Blackwater unit had been trying to clear a path for a State Department convoy.

It found a fourth guard, Nicholas Slatten, guilty of murder in connection with the first death at the circle.

So far, the jury in Washington has found the four former guards guilty on nearly every count related to the incident, although the verdict was still being handed down.

The 2007 shooting, which came more than four years into a war replete with grisly incidents, stood out for its brazenness and raised questions about the rules governing security contractors working for the U.S. government overseas.

Wednesday's verdict, which was still being handed down at midday on Wednesday, follows more than seven weeks of deliberations during which jurors considered nearly 100 different questions.

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