Blackwater settles lawsuits over Iraqi deaths

US security firm Blackwater on Jan. 6 reached a settlement agreement in seven federal lawsuits filed by Iraqi citizens. The suits claimed that Blackwater, now known as Xe, created a reckless culture that resulted in numerous deaths, including the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in September 2007 and the 2006 killing of an Iraqi guard. The suits accused Blackwater founder Erik Prince of personal responsibility. The terms of the settlement have not been made public, but Xe said in a statement that it is “pleased” with the resolution.

The settlement comes just a week after after a US judge dismissed charges against five guards indicted for their involvement in the September 2007 killings. Earlier this week, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraq will file lawsuits in both US and Iraqi courts against the guards. (Jurist, Jan. 7)

See our last posts on Iraq and the Blackwater scandals.

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  1. UN calls for accountability in Blackwater killings
    On Jan. 7, the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries responded to an announcement earlier this week by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that his government would file lawsuits against Blackwater, in both US and Iraqi courts for its involvement in the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians in September 2007 in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. Chairperson Shaista Shameem called for accountability, urging US and Iraqi authorities to cooperate in order to avoid a “situation where no one would be accountable for grave human rights violations,” despite Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17 of 2004, granting immunity from prosecution for foreign contractors operating in Iraq. (Jurist, Jan. 8)

    Meanwhile, AP reports, citing one of the plaintiffs as a source, that Blackwater paid $100,000 per family per murder, and $30,000 per wounded victim. Jeremy Scahill of The Nation further reports that two of the plaintiffs were paid a higher amount than the others, in order to resolve the settlement dispute.