Contractors in Iraq Could Be Charged for Old Incidents

Charges Could Loom for Contractors in Old Iraq Disputes
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 21, 2008 12:22 PM CST
A helicopter owned by Blackwater USA, a private security contractor, flies over central Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007.    (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
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(Newser) – Iraq may be able to prosecute US contractors for misdeeds committed when they were thought to be operating under American immunity, McClatchy reports. The new security pact doesn’t block such retroactive legal action, news that came as a surprise to Blackwater, whose contractors have been involved in the most high-profile incidents. "We are still trying to make sense of it," said a company spokeswoman.

While a 2003 law gave the contractors immunity from Iraqi prosecution, Iraq’s PM called for a revision to that rule in the new agreement. Its wording, however, doesn’t address past incidents, including the shooting deaths of 17 civilians last year by contractors protecting a State Department official. Contractors are taking a “wait-and-see attitude” while negotiators try to reach agreement, said a US official.