>> A federal appeals court on Friday throwing out the murder conviction of a former Blackwater security guard, in the infamous 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqis at a Baghdad traffic circle. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordering a new trial for former security contractor Nicholas Slatten serving life in prison for the killings, and the re-sentencing of three others saying the 30 years they were facing behind bars was too long.
Reporter Lindsay Dunsmuir>> Today's ruling by the appeals court really is an about face for this case. These four men were convicted in 2015. At the time, I remember, the day of the sentencing, there was a lot of support for the men who felt that they had been wrongly convicted by a government that they had felt they were there to represent.
And on the other hand, you had these heartbreaking witness impact statements from the families of some of the victims as well.>> The stunning decision reopening one of the darkest chapters of the Iraq War. The four guards opening fire with machine guns on the Iraqis including women and children at Baghdad's Nisour Square, but insisting they were under attack as their Blackwater convoy made what prosecutors called a reckless effort to clear the road for US diplomats.
The incident at the time rocking Washington, igniting intense debate over the dangers of having thousands of private security contractors working for the US in Iraq during the war.>> These private soldiers, if you like, were not under the same rules as the armed forces. And critics said that it was ripe for abuse and ripe for things going wrong.
>> The Appeals Court ruled the trialed court had, quote, abused it's discretion by not allowing Slatten who was charged with murder for firing the first shot to be tried separately from the other defendants charged with manslaughter. The ruling comes and it reports, former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has offered to help supply private security contractors for the war in Afghanistan, as President Trump considers whether to send thousands more US troops to fight in the 15 year old war.