Posted Dec 08, 2008 05:52 pm CST
Five security guards from Blackwater Worldwide have surrendered on manslaughter charges in Salt Lake City based on allegations they killed 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians.
The five guards were also charged with attempted manslaughter and weapons violations in the September 2007 shootings that wounded 20 others, according to a Justice Department press release. A sixth guard has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempted manslaughter.
Paul Cassell, a Utah lawyer representing the defendants, told the Associated Press that the case was tragic, but, “we think it’s pure and simple a case of self-defense.”
Defense attorneys are seeking dismissal of the case on the theory that the Justice Department does not have the authority to prosecute the guards here for crimes committed overseas, the AP story says. The indictment is the first prosecution of private contractors under amendments to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.