US grants Blackwater immunity
Tue, 30 Oct 2007 03:12:43
The US State Department promises Blackwater bodyguards immunity in its investigation into the massacre of Iraqi civilians by the firm.
“Once you give immunity, you can’t take it away,” a senior law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told AP.
That means it’s possible no criminal charges will be brought, or, if they are, it may take months.
Three senior law enforcement officials were quoted by AP as saying that all the Blackwater bodyguards involved were given the legal protections as investigators from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security sought to find out what happened.
The bureau is an arm of the State Department. The investigative misstep comes in the wake of already-strained relations between the United States and Iraq, which is demanding the right to launch its own prosecution of the Blackwater bodyguards.
On September 2007 a Blackwater team guarding a State Department convoy in Baghdad fatally shot 17 Iraqis near a bustling traffic circle. The incident prompted US and Iraqi officials to launch an investigation into the shooting. The preliminary results of the investigation revealed that the shooting was unprovoked, despite the firm’s claims that its guards had been attacked before the incident.