USA: Blackwater guards given immunity in Iraq shootings

Click here: The Colombus Dispatch: Blackwater guards given immunity in Iraq shootings

The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards limited immunity from prosecution for their testimony in last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, the Associated Press has learned. The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident, which has infuriated the Iraqi government.

…The company has said its Sept. 16 convoy was under attack before its guards opened fire in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, killing 17 Iraqis. But an initial incident report by U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq, indicated “no enemy activity involved.” The FBI took over the case early this month, officials said, after prosecutors in the Justice Department’s criminal division realized it could not bring charges against Blackwater guards based on their statements to the Diplomatic Security investigators. Officials said the Blackwater bodyguards spoke only after receiving “Garrity” protections, requiring that their statements be used only internally — not for criminal prosecutions.

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