Wild, unprovoked gunfire and grenades killed 14 innocent Iraqis and hurt dozens more in a Sept. 16, 2007, Baghdad shooting, prosecutors said Monday in announcing charges with mandatory 30-year prison terms against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards.
Prosecutors said the slain included young children, women, people fleeing in cars and a man whose arms were raised in surrender as he was shot in the chest.
"None of the victims of this shooting was armed. None of them was an insurgent," U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said at a Justice Department news conference in Washington to announce the charges.
'SELF-DEFENSE': Moyock, N.C.-based Blackwater maintains that its guards were protecting themselves from what they believed was an imminent car bomb attack. Blackwater, the largest security contractor in Iraq, was not charged in the case.
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"We think it's pure and simple a case of self-defense," defense attorney Paul Cassell said Monday as the guards were being booked. "Tragically, people did die."
CUTTING A DEAL: The five security guards, all military veterans, surrendered in federal court in Utah, where one lives. A judge ordered them to report Jan. 6 to a Washington courthouse, where they are expected to plead not guilty.
A sixth Blackwater guard struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another.