Blackwater accused are charged

12Dec08

US Guards Charged Over Shootings
Originally published: 8th December 2008
All credits: SKY News

Five security guards have been charged with killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 others in a shooting incident in Baghdad. The shooting unfolded in a crowded square in September, 2007, where prosecutors say civilians were going about their lives, running errands.

The guards, working for Blackwater Worldwide, the largest security contractor in Iraq, were escorting a convoy of US diplomats through Baghdad and sought to shut down a road junction following a car bombing elsewhere in the city. Witnesses said the contractors opened fire without provocation. Women and children were among the victims and the shooting left the square littered with blown-out cars.

Blackwater says its guards were ambushed by insurgents while responding to a car bombing. In a 35-count indictment, the five men were charged with manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter and weapons violations, said the US Justice Department.

Patrick Rowan, assistant attorney general for national security said: “The government alleges… that at least 34 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children, were killed or injured without justification or provocation by these Blackwater security guards in the shooting at Nisoor Square.”

The shootings sparked an outcry in Iraq and led US officials to tighten controls on guards and contractors. A sixth Blackwater guard has already pleaded guilty to the charges.

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