Five Blackwater Worldwide security guards indicted in Washington, D.C., for the shooting of Iraqi civilians plan to surrender to the FBI today in Salt Lake City, in hopes of a favorable trial venue, the Associated Press reports. With a surrendering in Utah, the home state of one of the guards, Donald Ball, lawyers could argue in a far more conservative, pro-gun venue than Washington. The five guards, all military veterans, were indicted for their roles in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. The shooting fueled anti-American sentiment abroad. Prosecutors are expected to argue that crimes committed overseas are normally charged in Washington. They have been negotiating a plea deal in Washington federal court with a sixth guard.
“Donald Ball committed no crime,” said Steven McCool, another lawyer on the team. “We are confident that any jury will see this for what it is: a politically motivated prosecution to appease the Iraqi government.” Prosecutors also are planning to use a law calling for mandatory 30-year prison terms for using machine guns to commit violent crimes. “It would be outrageous to charge Mr. Ball with firearms offenses relating to guns issued by the State Department,” McCool said.