About a year ago, five Blackwater security guards working for the U.S. government were arraigned on federal charges for killing a bunch of civilians in Baghdad’s Nissor Square. Today those charges were dismissed.
Federal judge Ricardo Urbina found the government’s case against the men “lacking in credibility.”
At issue was the use of statements made by the guards to State Department investigators of the incident; government prosecutors got hold of these statements and, the judge implied, could not demonstrate that they were not using those statements to build their case, which would violate the defendants’ right not to incriminate themselves.
Consensus among commentators is that prosecutors “screwed this case up.” Rebel Reports says the ruling “sends a clear message that US-funded mercenaries are above all systems of law — US and international.” Even some rightbloggers are unhappy about it (“KSM must be feeling pretty good about this”).
The guards, who allegedly left 17 Iraqis dead, had been charged with illegal weapons possession and manslaughter, and could have gotten 30 years apiece.