Disappointed Iraq 'to sue Blackwater over civilian murders'

Iraq expressed its disappointment on Friday with a U.S. federal court ruling that dismissed all charges against five Blackwater men.

Disappointed Iraq 'to sue Blackwater over civilian murders'

Iraq expressed its disappointment on Friday with a U.S. federal court ruling that dismissed all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of gunning down Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the five men had committed a serious crime in the Sept. 2007 shooting in Baghdad.

Dabbagh said Iraq may sue the private security company.

"The Iraqi government regrets and is disappointed by the U.S. court's decision ... We have our own investigations and they showed that Blackwater committed a serious crime in the killing of 17 Iraqi citizens," Dabbagh said.

"The Iraqi government is considering other legal means through which it can sue the Blackwater company," he added.

On Thursday, the federal judge dismissed all charges on Thursday against five Blackwater guards accused of killing unarmed 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Citing repeated government missteps, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed a case that had been steeped in international politics. The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.

General Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, echoed the Iraqi government's displeasure.

"Of course we're upset when we believe that people might have caused a crime and they are not held accountable," he told reporters in Baghdad.

"Surprised"

One Iraqi at the scene, whose young son was killed in the incident, said the guards indiscriminately rained gunfire on cars at the intersection near the convoy.

Mohammed Usama, the son of a man killed in the incident, said he was surprised at the U.S. judge's verdict.

"I did not expect the court to acquit these killers, but what can we do? We cannot do anything with the U.S. government and their law."

The five guards were charged a year ago with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempt to commit manslaughter and one weapons violation count over a Baghdad shooting that outraged Iraqis and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad.

The shooting led to the unraveling of the North Carolina-based company, which since has replaced its management and changed its name to Xe Services.

The defendants -- Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard, Donald Ball and Nicholas Slatten -- were employed by Blackwater Worldwide.

Prosecutors can appeal the 90-page ruling.

Critics repeatedly have accused the company of a Rambo-style "shoot first, ask questions later" approach when carrying out security duties in Iraq.

A sixth Blackwater guard pleaded guilty late last year to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.


Agencies

 

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