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United States of America v. Paul A. Slough “et al,” Defendants: Ruling on the Case against Former Blackwater Security Guards
Ricardo M. Urbina (au)
Ruling by Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of Federal District court in Wash., DC, on the case against former Blackwater security guards in Iraq over a shooting that killed 17 Iraqis and wounded at least 20. Judge Ricardo threw out the indictments against the guards. In his opinion: “The defendants have been charged with voluntary manslaughter and firearms violations arising out of a shooting that occurred in Baghdad, Iraq on Sept. 16, 2007. They contend that in the course of this prosecution, the government violated their constitutional rights byutilizing statements they made to Dept. of State investigators, which were compelled under a threat of job loss. The government has acknowledged that many of these statements qualify as compelled statements under Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), which held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination bars the government from using statements compelled under a threat of job loss in a subsequent criminal prosecution. The Fifth Amendmentautomatically confers use and derivative use immunity on statements compelled under Garrity; this means that in seeking an indictment from a grand jury or a conviction at trial, the government is prohibited from using such compelled statements or any evidence obtained as a result of those statements. The government has also acknowledged that its investigators, prosecutors and key witnesses were exposed to (and, indeed, aggressively sought out) many of the statements given by the defendants to State Dept. investigators. Under the binding precedent of the Supreme Court, the burden fell to the government to prove that itmade no use whatsoever of these immunized statements or that any such use was harmless beyond any reasonable doubt....In short, the government has utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants’ statements or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court must dismiss the indictment against all of the defendants.”
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