Second Blackwater guard sentenced in Afghan shooting
A second Blackwater guard was sentenced to prison for his role in the shooting death of an Afghan civilian two years ago, dpa reported.
Justin Cannon, 29, of Texas received a 30-month sentence Monday for the killing while in an unauthorized convoy in Kabul on May 5, 2009, the US Justice Department said.
Cannon and the second Blackwater guard, Christopher Drotleff, 31, of Virginia, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March. They had worked for Xe Services, which was previously known as Blackwater. The firm is a security contractor for the US government.
At the time of the killing, Drotleff and Cannon were contractors for the military.
Drotleff was sentenced this month to 37 months in prison for the killing.
District Judge Robert Doumar in Virginia Beach issued the sentence, rejecting the defence lawyer's plea for less punishment and saying he intended to send a message especially to Xe.
"They have a responsibility to hire individuals who they feel are capable of following orders and not going off on some tear," he was quoted as saying by the Virginia Pilot newspaper.
Two Afghan civilians were killed in the incident in Kabul, which occurred after the lead vehicle in the convoy crashed. Cannon and Drotleff fired multiple shots into the back of a car that tried to pass the accident scene, killing a passenger in the car and a person nearby.
The men were convicted in the death of the car passenger and acquitted in the killing of the pedestrian, the Justice Department said.
US Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said Cannon had "dishonoured the American military" with his reckless actions, "undermined our military mission and weakened the bond of trust with the Afghans."
Blackwater gained international attention when its guards allegedly opened fire unprovoked in Baghdad in September 2007, killing 17 Iraqi civilians while protecting a diplomatic convoy. The US government also pursued criminal charges in that case. A federal charge initially threw out the case, but an appeals court has resurrected it.
The use of security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan has been a source of tension between the US government and those two countries.