Among the pardons made by President Trump this week, the pardon of four former guards for Blackwater has been regarded by some as particularly galling.
Nicholas Slatten, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were convicted six years ago in the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 17 others. Witnesses described how the American men ambushed the civilians unprovoked, firing on Baghdad’s Nisour Square with heavy gunfire and grenade launchers.
The massacre took place in 2007, when the four were working as guards for Blackwater, a private military contractor, on an assignment in Baghdad. They claimed they were fired on, but prosecutors said the Blackwater guards opened fire first. Slatten, whom prosecutors said started the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison.
Hassan Salman is among the Iraqis who were shot during the ambush. He told NPR on Wednesday that he was shocked by Trump’s pardons — he himself had made trips to the U.S. to give testimony in the proceedings against the four.
“Today we were surprised that the American president issued a decision to pardon these criminals, murderers and thugs,” Salman said, speaking from Baghdad. “I’m really shocked. … The American judiciary is fair and equitable. I had never imagined that Trump or any other politician would affect American justice.”