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China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

were killed in Baghdad in 2007 in which the de­fen­dant fired the first shot, pros­e­cu­tors said

A spokesman for the US at­tor­ney’s of­fice in Wash­ing­ton said pros­e­cu­tors were still re­view­ing the de­ci­sion and had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

Bill Coffield, a lawyer for Lib­erty, said he planned to meet with Lib­erty to re­view their op­tions. “Ob­vi­ously we’re pleased with the court’s de­ci­sion in terms of the un­con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the sen­tence,” he said.

David Schertler, a lawyer for Heard, said in a state­ment that though he be­lieved his client was en­ti­tled to a new trial, “We are grat­i­fied that the court rec­og­nized the gross in­jus­tice of the 30-year manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tences im­posed in the unique war zone cir­cum­stances of this case.”

It’s not clear that any new sen­tences for the de­fen­dants will be sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent from the ones orig­i­nally im­posed. At the April 2015 sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, US Dis­trict Judge Royce Lam­berth said he was “very sat­is­fied with a 30-year sen­tence”.

At the week­long trial held in 2014, the fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor and de­fense lawyer pre­sented very dif­fer­ent ver­sions of what trig­gered the Septem­ber 2007 mas­sacre in Nisour Square.

The gov­ern­ment de­scribed the killings as a one-sided am­bush of un­armed civil­ians, while the de­fense said the guards opened fire only af­ter a white Kia sedan seen as a po­ten­tial sui­cide car bomb be­gan mov­ing quickly to­ward their con­voy. Af­ter the shoot­ing stopped, no ev­i­dence of a bomb was found.

In is­su­ing their rul­ing ben­e­fit­ing the de­fen­dants, the judges said they were in no way ex­cus­ing the hor­ror of events they said “de­fies civ­i­lized de­scrip­tion”.

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