President Donald Trump’s decision to forgive four Blackwater private security contractors convicted of a genocide in Baghdad has been met with fury by the families of the victims.
“How are these criminals released after killing 17 innocent people?” Hussein Sahab Nasir, 35, told NBC News on Wednesday from his home in Baghdad. “On what basis did Trump depend to release him? Let us assume that I am traveling to America and killing 17 American citizens. Are they going to release me?”
Nasir’s younger brother, Mahdi Saheb Nasir, was 22 years old and was working as a taxi driver when he was killed in September 2007 along with other unarmed civilians in Nisur Square, Baghdad.
Iraqi officials say 17 people were killed; The Department of Justice has stated that the total was 14.
The deaths provoked international outrage and raised questions about the use of private security firms in war zones.
In 2014, four former government contractors who worked for Blackwater Worldwide, a security firm founded by Eric Prince – Trump’s aide and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos – were indicted in Washington’s federal court in connection with the murders.
Nicholas Slayton was sentenced to life in prison without parole after he was convicted of murder, while Paul Sloo, Evan Liberty and Dustin Hurd were convicted of murder and weapons.
Prosecutors said the Blackwater convoy carried out an unprovoked attack using sniper fire, machine guns and grenade launchers.
Defense lawyers for the four veterans, who were working as State Department contractors at the time of the murders, argued that they had returned only after they were ambushed by Iraqi insurgents.
Trump on Tuesday issued a pardon for all four men.
Nasir, who took part in the 2014 trial in the United States, said his brother’s death broke his father’s heart.
“He was mad before dying because he used to go in the street and whenever he saw a young man, he used to imagine that he was a Mahdi,” he said.
His mother was also traumatized, he said.
“People shouting slogans have reduced American talk of human rights,” he says, adding, “They like animals more than humans, and then they talk about human rights, justice and humanity.” let’s talk. ”
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Jaish Mohammad Hashem, who was working as a police officer when he was shot in the head in an attack, was also disappointed by Trump’s decision to free the men, adding, “frantically opened fire on civilians Granted. “
“I think what the security company personnel have done is a terrorist act, in which many civilians were martyred and injured,” said Hasmay, a 41-year-old father of five.
Washington director Sarah Holwinski at Human Rights Watch said Trump’s pardon is an insult to justice, “but it is also an insult to the victims.”
“After years of waiting, the victims finally saw justice when these people were convicted,” he said in an email. “With those sentences overturned by the trauma of a pen, who will trust the American justice system again?”
Blackwater is renamed a risk management business formed in 2010 under the Castellis Group of Companies.
Constellis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
US troops invaded Iraq in 2003 and overtook Saddam Hussein’s regime. They left in 2011 but returned in 2014 after the Islamic State militant group moved to larger parts of the country.
According to defense officials, more than 3,000 forces remain in Iraq, with a drawdown for January.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.