Posted Apr 22, 2011 03:47 pm CDT
A federal appeals court has reinstated the manslaughter indictments of four former Blackwater security guards accused of firing on unarmed Iraqi civilians and killing 17 people in September 2007.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the trial judge who dismissed the indictments had improperly assumed that tainted evidence had affected all of the indictments, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had ruled in December 2009 that the indictments must be dismissed because prosecutors improperly used statements made by the guards in compelled reports after the incident. The appeals court overturned his ruling in a redacted opinion (PDF) issued today.
The appeals court said that on remand Urbina should determine which evidence was tainted against each individual, and whether the improper evidence was harmless.
Five guards were originally indicted, but the government dismissed the indictment against one of them, reserving the right to refile the case against him. Blackwater has said the shootings were a response to an attack by insurgents.
The Associated Press has additional coverage.