The Justice Department charged four former Blackwater security contractors Thursday in the 2007 attack on Iraqi civilians, reviving a heated case that a judge initially dismissed in 2009.
The men, hired to guard U.S. diplomats, are accused of opening fire in a Baghdad Square with machine guns and grenades, killing 17 people, including women and children. The defense says they were responding to an ambush by insurgents, the Associated Press reports.
In 2009, a federal judge sparked outrage in Iraq when he dismissed the case, saying the Justice Department withheld evidence and violated the guards’ constitutional rights. But a federal appeals court reinstated the case in 2011.
“We will continue to fight and defend Dustin Heard’s innocence and honor until he is fully exonerated,” David Schertler, the lawyer for one of the defendants, a retired U.S. Marine from Knoxville, Tennessee, told the AP.
The company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide is under new ownership and now called Academi.