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US judge lets Blackwater/Xe mercs off the hook

US judge lets Blackwater/Xe mercs off the hook

Press TV
January 1, 2010

A US federal judge has dismissed criminal charges against five Blackwater/Xe security guards accused of fatally shooting 14 people in Baghdad in September 2007.

On Thursday, Judge Ricardo Urbina said US government prosecutors violated the defendants’ rights by using incriminating statements they had made under immunity during a State Department probe to build their case.

“The government used the defendants’ compelled statements to guide its charging decisions, to formulate its theory of the case, to develop investigatory leads, and ultimately to obtain the indictment in the case,” Urbina ruled.

“In short, the government had utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants’ statement or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Blackwater/Xe mercenaries had been charged with killing 14 Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others using gunfire and grenades at a busy Baghdad intersection in September 2007.

They faced charges of manslaughter.

In a public relations move meant to clean up the company’s image, which was tarnished by incidents in which civilians were killed in the Iraq war, Blackwater Worldwide rebranded and changed its name to a futuristic new name, Xe (pronounced like the last letter of the alphabet), in February 2009.

However, there is still great animosity toward Blackwater/Xe in Iraq.

Many Iraqis believe the US military allowed Blackwater/Xe mercenaries to commit numerous war crimes against their compatriots with impunity, and the latest court ruling will only reinforce such sentiments.

 

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