US Prosecutors Request Charges Be Dropped Against Blackwater Guard
United States prosecutors dropped charges today against one of the six guards charged in the killing of Iraqi civilians in 2007, the BBC reported today. No reason was given for dropping the charges, although the prosecutors reportedly preserved the option to reinstate proceedings. One of the six charged has plead guilty and is co-operating with prosecutors. The other four guards are scheduled to begin trial in February.
The employees of Blackwater, now called Xe Services, strained American-Iraqi relations in the aftermath of the shooting, which reportedly killed between fourteen and seventeen people in Baghdad, including children. Motivation for opening fire is disputed; the guards claim self defense while witnesses maintain the shooting was unprovoked. Shortly after the incident, Iraq revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in the country. After Blackwater’s contract recession, the US stopped using the firm to guard its diplomats in Iraq. The incident and subsequent reporting put the spotlight on private military contracting as a popular issue of contention in the debate surrounding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.