US court dismisses Blackwater case over Iraqi civilian killings

A federal judge dismissed all charges against five Blackwater guards accused of killing unarmed 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

US court dismisses Blackwater case over Iraqi civilian killings

A 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.

The Iraqi government wanted the guards to face trial in Iraq and officials there said they would closely watch how the U.S. judicial system handled the case.

Urbina said the prosecutors ignored the advice of senior Justice Department officials and improperly built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity.

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.

The Justice Department said it was disappointed in the judge's action. "We're in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options," Dean Boyd, a department spokesman, said in response to a question about whether the government would appeal.

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


Last Mod: 02 Ocak 2010, 00:23
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