Blackwater, now known as Academi, reached a confidential settlement agreement Jan. 7 with survivors and families of victims in a 2007 shooting incident in the Nisour Square area of Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. A subsequent FBI investigation revealed that 14 of the deaths were unjustified acts of excessive force. A federal judge ruled last year that the lawsuit could proceed in North Carolina state court, saying that nonresidents lack the right to sue in federal court for injuries sustained outside of the country but that federal courts are obligated to remand such cases to the state level, where North Carolina law permits such suits. Lawyers for the victims confirmed the settlement, and Academi said the settlement would allow the company to move forward while providing compensation to the victims and allowing closure for the losses they suffered. This settlement closes the last lawsuit against the company for the 2007 incident.
Two ex-Blackwater contractors were convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison last year for their role in the shooting deaths of two Afghan nationals and the wounding of a third. In April a federal grand jury indicted five former Blackwater executives on charges of weapons violations and lying to investigators. In 2010 the Iraqi government ordered 250 former Blackwater employees to leave Iraq in reaction to the dismissal of criminal charges against the guards involved in the 2007 shooting incident. The same month, the Department of Justice also opened an investigation into whether Blackwater bribed the Iraqi government to be permitted to continue operating in Iraq following the 2007 shootings. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdadin May 2009 when its security contracts expired and were not renewed.
From Jurist, Jan. 9. Used with permission.