Thursday, December 31, 2009

There Is Justice After All

Judge dismisses all charges in Blackwater shooting

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 31, 2009; 4:15 PM

A federal judge on Thursday threw out charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing 14 people in a 2007 shooting in downtown Baghdad.
In a 90-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the government violated the guards' rights by using their immunized statements to help the investigation. The ruling comes after a lengthy set of hearings that examined whether federal prosecutors and agents improperly used such statements that the guards gave to State Department investigators following the shooting on Sept. 16, 2007.

"The explanations offered by prosecutors and investigators in an attempt to justify their actions and persuade the court that they did not use the defendants' compelled testimony were all too often contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility," Urbina wrote.

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said, "We're obviously disappointed by the decision. We're still in the process of reviewing the opinion and considering our options."

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