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Fury as judge throws out Blackwater murder case

Iraqis seeking justice for 17 people shot dead at a Baghdad intersection responded with bitterness and outrage yesterday to a US judge's decision to throw out a case against a security team accused in the killings.

The Iraqi government vowed to pursue the case, which became a source of contention between the US and Iraq.

Blackwater had been hired to protect US diplomats in Iraq. The guards said they were ambushed, but US prosecutors and Iraqis said the Blackwater guards let loose an unprovoked attack on civilians.

"Investigations conducted by specialised Iraqi authorities confirmed unequivocally that the guards of Blackwater committed the crime of murder . . . without the existence of any threat obliging them to use force," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said yesterday.

Five of the company's guards were charged in the case with manslaughter and weapons violations, but a federal judge yesterday dismissed all charges.

US District Judge Ricardo Urbina said prosecutors built their case on sworn statements that the guards had given with the idea that they would be immune from prosecution.

Dr Haitham Ahmed's wife and son were killed in the shooting: "The rights of our victims and the rights of the innocent people should not be wasted."

Irish Independent