Ex-Blackwater contractor sentenced to life in Iraq shootings

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By ASHRAF KHALIL Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a former Blackwater security contractor to life in prison for his role in the 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Iraq.

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Judge Royce Lamberth issued the sentence Wednesday after friends and relatives requested leniency for Nicholas Slatten, who was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury in December.

Prosecutors charged that Slatten was the first to fire shots in the September 2007 massacre of Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic circle in Baghdad. In all, 10 men, two women and two boys, ages 9 and 11, were killed.

The defense had argued that Slatten and other Blackwater contractors opened fire only after they saw what they mistakenly thought was a potential suicide car bomber moving quickly toward their convoy.