Trump's Blackwater pardons 'an affront to justice': United Nations experts

Trump's Blackwater pardons 'an affront to justice': United Nations experts

The pardons granted to four convicted private security contractors for war crimes in Iraq violated United States' obligations under global law, a group of United Nations experts said on Wednesday.

The 16 September 2007 Blackwater incident is considered to be one of the darkest points of the Iraqi war and deeply strained US-Iraqi relations. "I regret any innocent loss of life, but I'm just confident in how I acted and I can basically feel peace with that".

According to a document released by the working group, "these amnesties violate U.S. obligations under worldwide law and often undermine human rights". All men were veterans of the USA military.

Mr Liberty is one of four former Blackwater contractors who obtained a pardon from Donald Trump.

Mr. Liberty, whose 30-year sentence was cut by about half last year, says he doesn't know how his case ended up on Donald Trump's desk.

However, the United Nations expert said the pardon constituted an "affront to justice".

U.S. President Donald Trump on December 22 granted full pardons to 15 people, including four Blackwater security guards convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians.

Slatten was convicted of first-degree murder and Slough, Liberty, and Heard of voluntary and attempted manslaughter over a 2007 incident in which the USA contractors opened fire in busy traffic in a Baghdad square and killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians.

The White House, meanwhile, maintains that the pardons are "broadly supported by the public", including Fox News host Pete Hegseth as well as Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Ralph Norman (SC), Bill Flores (TX), Brian Babin (TX), Michael Burgess (TX), Daniel Webster (FL), Steve King (IA), and Ted Yoho (FL).

Defense lawyers say the shooting began only after a white Kia broke from the traffic and moved toward the convoy in ways the guards perceived as a threat and a potential vehicle bomb.

The case was bitterly contested for more than a decade, with the Justice Department reviving the prosecution after an original indictment was thrown out because of government missteps and flying in dozens of Iraqi witnesses to testify.

In 2014, the four mercenaries employed by Blackwater, that participated in the killings, were tried in United States federal court and convicted, one of murder, and the other three of manslaughter and firearms charges. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard received 10-15 year sentences for manslaughter and weapons charges.

The Iraqi government and law enforcement said that the killings were unprovoked, pointing out that the vehicle approaching the convoy contained a medical student and his mother.

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