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WASHINGTON — Shortly before a federal judge sentenced him to life in prison on Wednesday for his role in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad, Nicholas A. Slatten, a former Blackwater security contractor, stood in a tan jumpsuit and defiantly proclaimed that he was an innocent victim of Justice Department prosecutors run amok.
“This is a miscarriage of justice that will not stand,” said Mr. Slatten, who in December was convicted by a jury of murdering an Iraqi civilian in Nisour Square, the act prosecutors said kicked off the chaotic hail of machine-gun fire and grenades targeting other civilians by guards in Mr. Slatten’s convoy that left 10 women, two men and two children dead, and 18 others injured.
But the trial judge, Royce C. Lamberth of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, rejected Mr. Slatten’s assertion of innocence, including a reference to a fellow Blackwater guard’s statement that it was he, not Mr. Slatten, who fired the initial shot that killed the driver of a white Kia sedan in the traffic circle, 19-year-old Ahmed Haithem Ahmed Al Rubia’y.
“The court’s view of the evidence is the same as that of the jury,” Judge Lamberth said, declaring that the other guard’s statement was an “effort to mislead authorities about what was going on,” and that it was Mr. Slatten who “shot Mr. Al Rubia’y between the eyes and killed him,” without provocation.
The government had hired Blackwater Security to escort State Department officials through a chaotic war zone at the height of the Iraq insurgency. One of the darkest episodes in the conflict, the massacre of civilians became a charged symbol of American abuses and prompted a rethinking of American reliance on contractors in war zones. It also strained relations between the United States and the Iraqi government: The Iraqis wanted to prosecute the contractors, but the Americans insisted on handling it.
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