Dropping of Blackwater charges angers Iraq

Jan. 1, 2010 at 3:22 PM

BAGHDAD, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. judge who tossed charges against five Blackwater guards in a Baghdad shooting effectively let them get away with murder, Iraqi officials said Friday.

Hassan Jabbar Salman, one of more than 20 people wounded in the September 2007 gunfire in Baghdad's Nisour Square that left 17 people dead, said District Judge Ricardo Urbina's ruling Thursday demonstrated "disregard for Iraqi blood," CNN reported.

"Investigations carried out by specialized Iraqi authorities unequivocally found that the Blackwater guards committed murder and broke use-of-force rules when there was no threat requiring the use of force," Ali al-Dabbagh, a government spokesman, said.

While some of the guards for Blackwater, now known as XE, said they came under attack before opening fire, investigations by the Iraqi and U.S. governments found no evidence of provocation. At the time, U.S. government contractors were immune from prosecution in Iraq, but charges were brought in the U.S. courts.

Urbina found that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated because prosecutors used statements the guards gave investigators immediately after the shootings.

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