WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawyers for Blackwater security guards accused the government on Monday of suppressing evidence favorable to defendants who are on trial in the killings of 14 Iraqis in Nisoor Square in Baghdad.
The attorneys say the suppressed evidence consists of photographs of eight spent shell casings that would fit an AK-47 -- the weapon of choice used by insurgents as well as Iraqi authorities.
A court filing by the defense attorneys says the photographs were taken by a U.S. Army captain and that they never saw the light of day until federal prosecutors turned them over last Wednesday.
The photos could become an important part of the case. They could bolster the accounts of the security guards, who say they were being fired upon by insurgents and that the guards were simply returning fire.
"The government has suppressed, for seven years, evidence in its possession that is plainly exculpatory on the central disputed issue" in the case, the defense lawyers said in a court filing. "Had they possessed these photos, defendants would have made them a central focus during opening statements as evidence of incoming fire. Defendants also would have used this evidence to cross-examine at least four witnesses who have already testified" and who are not subject to being recalled because they have returned to Iraq.
The defense attorneys are asking that they be allowed to explain to the jurors in the case why they are just hearing now about the new evidence.