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Judge places 4 defendants together in Blackwater case

WASHINGTON - A judge is placing four former Blackwater Worldwide guards together in a trial that is scheduled to begin on June 11 in the killings of 14 Iraqi civilians and the injuring of at least 18 others in Baghdad.

The request that the ex-guards be tried together came from prosecutors, who obtained a first-degree murder indictment last week against one of the guards, Nicholas Slatten.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed a manslaughter indictment against Slatten on April 23 after an appeals court said the statute of limitations had lapsed. There is no time limit on bringing a first-degree murder charge.

The other three guards are Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard. Attorneys for the Blackwater guards say the men were ambushed and returned fire in an act of self-defence.

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