Prosecutors in Washington this week filed a murder indictment against Nicholas Slatten, a former Blackwater private security guard. ()
Two weeks after a judge dismissed manslaughter charges against former Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten, federal prosecutors charged him on Friday with first-degree murder.
Slatten was one of a group of ex-Blackwater guards charged with manslaughter in a fatal shooting in Iraq in 2007 that left dozens of civilians dead or wounded. A federal judge in Washington dismissed the case, finding prosecutors improperly used protected statements made by the guards after the incident. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2011 reinstated the prosecution.
The appeals court in April said its order reviving the prosecution did not apply to Slatten. Before the trial judge originally dismissed the case, the Justice Department had asked to drop the charges against Slatten. The judge never ruled on that request, though, instead dismissing the entire case.
The D.C. Circuit said that because Slatten was in a different position than the other defendants before the dismissal, it only revived the case as to those other guards. The ruling had a significant consequence for the government: The statute of limitations had run by that time for any manslaughter charge. U.S. District Senior Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed Slatten from the case in late April.
The ruling didn’t block the government from seeking an indictment on another charge, however. In the indictment filed Friday, prosecutors charged Slatten with a single count of first-degree murder in the death of a man, Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y, killed in the 2007 shooting in Baghdad.
Slatten’s lawyer, Wiltshire & Grannis partner Thomas Connolly, wasn’t immediately reached for comment this afternoon. He previously said he would file court papers accusing the government of vindictive prosecution if prosecutors brought new charges.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement that the government “will attempt to hold Mr. Slatten accountable for this murder and will seek to have him tried alongside the other indicted Blackwater guards.”
A trial against the other three guards still facing manslaughter charge is set to begin in June.