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Ex-Blackwater guards plead not guilty

WASHINGTON (AP) – Four ex-Blackwater guards are pleading not guilty to multiple manslaughter charges stemming from a deadly 2007 shooting on the streets of Baghdad.

Prosecutors say the heavily armed Blackwater convoy launched an unprovoked attack. Defense lawyers argue their clients, who entered their pleas Wednesday, are innocent men who were ambushed by Iraqi insurgents.

The guards were first indicted in 2008, but one of them, Nicholas Slatten, was dropped from the case the following year. A judge then dismissed the indictment against all defendants, but an appeals court reinstated the case. The men were charged in October in a new indictment.

Slatten’s lawyer has a motion pending before the court that the indictment against his client be dismissed.

Prosecutors this year agreed to dismiss their case against a fifth guard, Donald Ball.

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