Iraq will seek appeal over Blackwater case dismissal
Iraq will ask the US government to appeal a judge's decision to dismiss charges against five guards from the private company Blackwater, Iraqi officials said Friday, dpa reported.
"Iraq regrets the decision of a federal judge in the United States to drop charges against the guards," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters Friday.
The Iraqi government will seek to "prosecute the perpetrators ... and to uphold the rights of Iraqi citizens, the victims, their families and all those affected by this crime," he said.
US District Judge Ricardo Urbina on Thursday dismissed manslaughter and weapons charges against five private military contractors employed by Blackwater in connection with a shooting in central Baghdad that left at least 14 Iraqis dead and led to a political firestorm in Iraq.
Urbina said US prosecutors had relied on statements given under the promise of immunity.
"This matter will be appealed in the American court and if not resolved correctly, this will definitely add another strain on the relationship between Iraq and the United States," Saad al-Muttalibi, an advisor to the Iraqi cabinet, told al-Jazeera television.
"The legality or the procedures of the court case should not stop the criminals from facing justice and receiving a just sentence," al-Muttalibi said.
"This is very bad ... for the overall image of the United States outside its borders," he said. "It's very important for the Americans to realise that this will work against their interests in Iraq and other places."
Donald Ball, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nick Slatten and Paul Slough had faced 30-year prison terms for their roll in the incident.
"Investigations by the competent Iraqi authorities unequivocally confirmed that the Blackwater guards committed the crime of murder and broke the rules covering the use of arms, without the existence of any threat calling for the use of force," al-Dabbagh said.
Blackwater has since changed its name to Xe Services.