Prosecutor Urges Jury To Convict Blackwater Guards

A prosecutor urged a federal jury on Wednesday to convict four former Blackwater guards in the shootings of more than 30 Iraqis.

In closing arguments at the trial which began in June, prosecutor Anthony Asuncion said the four guards "took something that didn't belong to them" - the lives of human beings and the health of others who are still suffering from their wounds from the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings.

The four Blackwater guards unleashed a hail of gunfire that left "bloody, bullet-riddled corpses" at Nisoor Square in downtown Baghdad, Asuncion said.

The jurors' job "is a search for truth" in the wake of violently shattered lives, he said.

Arguments by the defense team for the four men were to take place later Wednesday. Lawyers for the four men say they were acting in self-defense - firing their weapons because they had been fired upon by insurgents.

One defendant, Nicholas Slatten, faces a first-degree murder charge. Defendants Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty are charged with voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.

Slatten could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted. The others face mandatory minimum sentences of 30 years in prison if convicted of the gun charge and one other count.