WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge erred in dismissing all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007, an appeals court ruled on Friday.
The unanimous three-judge panel reinstated the charges and sent the case back to the judge for more proceedings, handing a victory to the U.S. Justice Department in a high-profile prosecution dating to 2008.
The five guards were charged with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempt to commit manslaughter and one weapons violation count over a Baghdad shooting that outraged Iraqis and strained ties between the two countries.
The shooting occurred as the private security firm's guards escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats through the Iraqi capital on September 16, 2007. The guards, U.S. military veterans, were responding to a car bombing when gunfire erupted at a crowded intersection.