ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Lawyers for Iraqis killed by Blackwater employees told a U.S. judge Erik Prince, the company's founder, is directly responsible.
The argument came during a hearing Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on a motion by Blackwater, now Xe LLC, to dismiss the lawsuits, The Washington Post reported.
"The person responsible for these deaths is Mr. Prince,'' said Susan Burke, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "He had the intent, he provided the weapons, he provided the instructions, and they were done by his agents and they were war crimes.''
Judge T.S. Ellis III questioned Burke and other lawyers on whether it was really possible to infer that Prince had an intent to kill Iraqis.
"Are you accusing Mr. Prince of saying, 'I want our boys to go out and shoot innocent civilians?'" the judge asked.
Prince, a former Navy SEAL, founded the North Carolina-based company and won lucrative contracts to guard U.S. government officials in Iraq.
In the most notorious incident, Blackwater employees traveling in a convoy in Baghdad killed 17 civilians in November 2007. Five of the guards involved are under indictment, and another has pleaded guilty.