Blackwater Guards Plead Not Guilty

Ken Kohl the lead prosecutor on the case said there was no need to delay till 2010 and told Judge Urbina, "This is a straightforward shooting of a lot of people. There are not a lot of issues of classified intelligence."

It is expected that the defense lawyers will argue the authority of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), the statute the prosecutors used to bring the charges. "This is an unprecedented prosecution," Schertler said after the hearing.

Asked why it would take over a year to get to trial Schertler said, "The United States Government had a year and a half to investigate the case and we did not, so we need a year to catch up."

The guards could face a mandatory 30-year prison sentence if found guilty of the charges they shot unarmed civilians with machine guns.

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