Iraq rights minister ‘astonished’ by Blackwater decision

BAGHDAD - Iraq’s human rights minister told AFP on Friday she was “astonished” by a US judge’s decision to dismiss criminal charges against five Blackwater security guards accused of fatally shooting 14 people in Baghdad in September 2007.

By (AFP)

Published: Fri 1 Jan 2010, 8:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 20 Feb 2020, 10:01 AM

“I was astonished by this decision,” Wejdan Mikhail said. “There was so much work done to prosecute these people and to take this case into court and I don’t understand why the judge took this decision.”
US federal judge Ricardo Urbina on Thursday dismissed the charges against the five, saying prosecutors violated their rights by using incriminating statements they had made under immunity during a State Department probe to build their case.
The case was among the most sensational that sought to hold Blackwater employees accountable for what was seen as a culture of lawlessness and a lack of accountability as it carried out its duties in Iraq.
The guards, who had been part of a convoy of armoured vehicles, had been charged with killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others during an unprovoked attack at a busy Baghdad roundabout using guns and grenades.
“One of them has said what happened in Nusoor Square, how they killed innocent Iraqi people that were just in their cars without any weapons. I am very astonished and I am waiting for the US embassy to give me the judge’s decision (in full),” she said.
“What happened was very bad, because so many innocent Iraqi people — young, students — were shot by someone who liked to shoot unarmed people.”
Mikhail added that she had requested a meeting with US embassy officials in Baghdad.

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