Two Blackwater employees charged in 2009 Kabul shootings

US authorities on Jan. 7 announced charges against two former employees of security firm Blackwater in connection with the May 5 shooting death of two Afghans in Kabul. Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff each face 13 counts under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), including two counts of second-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, and discharging a firearm during a violent crime, for which they could receive life in prison or the death penalty if convicted. The men are accused of shooting three men, reportedly during a traffic incident, while working for Blackwater subsidiary Paravant LLC, under contract with the US Department of Defense to provide weapons training to the Afghan National Army. (Jurist, Jan. 8)

See our last posts on Blackwater and civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

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  1. Federal judge declares mistrial in Blackwater murder case
    A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia declared a mistrial Sept. 27 in a murder case against two Blackwater contractors after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The jury notified Judge Robert Doumar that they were still split after nine hours of deliberation spread over three days. A new trial is set for March 2011. Christopher Drotleff, of Virginia Beach, Va., and Justin Cannon, of Corpus Christi, Tex., are charged with killing two unnamed Afghan civilians in Kabul last year. The defendants argued that they shot at the civilians in self-defense because the civilians’ sedan had crashed into another vehicle the defendants were traveling with, flipping it over, and then headed toward them. In April, federal prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty against Drotleff and Cannon, but the defendant’s could still face life imprisonment. (Jurist, Sept. 27)