US Court Reinstates Case Against Guards Accused in Iraq Killings

US Court Reinstates Case Against Guards Accused in Iraq Killings
# 23 April 2011 01:05 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. A U.S. appeals court has revived the case against four Blackwater private security guards who were involved in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad in which 17 people were killed, APA reports quoting “The Voice of America”.

The appellate court ruled Friday that a lower court trial judge had erred in late 2009 when he dismissed the charges against the guards.

The four guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working for Blackwater, a private American security firm that had been hired to protect U.S. State Department diplomats.

The guards opened fired in Baghdad’s crowded Nisour Square in September 2007, killing 17 Iraqis, including women and children, and wounding 20 others. The incident inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

The guards said they were ambushed by insurgents, but American prosecutors concluded the shooting was unprovoked and charged them with manslaughter.

As the case proceeded, the lower court judge, Ricardo Urbina, ruled that government prosecutors mishandled evidence and violated the guards’ U.S. constitutional rights.

In Friday’s ruling, however, a three-judge appeals court said Urbina had made errors in his legal analysis. The appellate court ordered Urbina to hold a new hearing to reconsider whether the government was using tainted evidence in bringing the charges.

The four guards have been free while courts have reviewed the case. The U.S. government dropped charges against a fifth guard involved in the incident, while a sixth guard involved in the case pleaded guilty and was assisting prosecutors.

Since the shooting, Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services. The owner and founder of the firm, Erik Prince, sold the company last December and is no longer involved in its operation.
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