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Monday, October 8, 2007

Iraq vows to punish Blackwater guards


Iraq has vowed to punish US security firm Blackwater after a probe found that its guards were not provoked when they opened fire on civilians in Baghdad three weeks ago, killing 17 people. The US embassy was tightlipped on Monday over whether those involved in the September 16 killings in Nisoor Square would be handed over for prosecution. The Iraqi government in its report into the September 16 killings released on Sunday said the Blackwater guards were unprovoked when they opened indiscriminate fire and that they should face legal punishment.
"The investigation committee appointed by Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki ... has finished its inquiry and has found that there was no evidence that the convoy of Blackwater came under fire directly or indirectly," a government statement said.
"Employees of the company violated the rules governing use of force by security companies," it said. "They have committed a crime and should be punished under the law."
It gave the toll from the shootings as 17 dead, considerably higher than the previous toll according to which at least 10 people had been killed. The statement said 22 people had been wounded. The Iraqi government would now take "judicial measures to punish the company," the statement added.
Blackwater claims its men were legitimately responding to an ambush while protecting a US State Department convoy.

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