Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq
Claiming prosecutorial misconduct, a federal judge Thursday threw out all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in downtown Baghdad in 2007, a bloody event that had inflamed relations between the United States and Iraq and stoked international anger over the use of private security contractors in a war zone.
In his 90-page decision, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the United States District Court in Washington said that federal prosecutors improperly used sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity to build its case and obtain indictments, and thereby “compromised the constitutional rights of the accused.”
In ruling one month before the defendants were to face trial in Washington, Judge Urbina dismissed the case not for its merits, but for the way the government had handled the prosecution, calling the government’s explanations for the improper use of statements “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”
The decision appeared to bring an abrupt end to a case that had been brewing for more than two years. But the Justice Department can still appeal the decision.