WASHINGTON: Two former Blackwater security guards were convicted Friday of involuntary manslaughter for a deadly shooting in Afghanistan but were acquitted of more serious charges, US officials said.
Christopher Drotleff, 29, and Justin Cannon, 27, face a maximum of eight years in prison after a jury in federal court found them guilty of involuntary manslaughter but acquitted them of other charges, including second-degree murder.
The first trial against Drotleff and Cannon who were employed by Paravant, an affiliate of Xe, formerly Blackwater ended in a hung jury and mistrial in September 2010. Blackwater provided private security in Afghanistan under contracts with the US Department of Defense.
US prosecutors said Drotleff and Cannon opened fire at the scene of a traffic accident in Kabul on May 5, 2009, using an AK-47 and a 9mm pistol, killing two people and wounding one. The guards left their base without permission and were escorting a vehicle carrying three interpreters to a taxi stand when there was an accident. The guards claimed the accident was caused by a third vehicle and that they opened fire to protect themselves. But the prosecution said the third car had stopped to assist, and tried to leave after the Paravant guards, who drank heavily earlier in the day, became combative.
Cannon and Drotleff fired multiple shots into the back of a civilian car that had attempted to pass the accident scene, prosecutors said in a statement. The passenger, Romal Mohammad Naiem, was killed and the driver was wounded.
A pedestrian who was walking his dog also was killed. The jury in the state of Virginia convicted both men in the death of Naiem but acquitted them of responsibility in the pedestrians death and the driver's injuries, US authorities said. Cannon and Drotleff provided weapons training to the Afghan National Army. Sentencing is scheduled for June 14. FROM PAKTRIBUNE.