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Iraq Insists on Blackwater Case Transfer to Int'l Courts, UN, Urges States to Back Baghdad

© AFP 2023 / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE Contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad (File)
 Contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad (File) - Sputnik International
BAGHDAD, (Sputnik) - Iraqi legislators intend to transfer to international courts and the UN the case of four former Blackwater contractors convicted of killing innocent Iraqi civilians and recently pardoned by US President Donald Trump for further consideration, a member of the Iraqi parliament's security and defense committee told Sputnik.

The parliament's foreign relations committee earlier demanded the government to review or suspend deals concluded with the US security companies over Trump's decision to pardon four ex-Blackwater contractors convicted in connection with the death of 14 Iraqi civilians, including two children, in Baghdad's Nisour Square in 2007. The Iraqi foreign ministry also said that it plans to convince the US administration to reconsider this action.

"We demand the Iraqi government to transfer this file to any other international court and will bring it to the United Nations. I hope that Russia and other major countries in the Security Council will pay attention to this file, as this issue represents the international interests, not only Iraq’s ones. … Therefore, we have called on the Iraqi government and the global community to intervene in a bid to stop this farce and encroachment on democratic and human values," al-Asadi said.

The case has been appealed before US courts over a large number of lawsuits and witnesses, the Iraqi official added, noting that all of the necessary documents on the case were filed through the US embassy.

"Complaints have been lodged against the case due to a lot of claims and witnesses. We gathered in a timely manner families of the victims at the interior ministry and [then] submitted papers through the US embassy. The inspector general of the interior ministry also participated as a witness and went to America three times, the witnesses and the victims’ families also were there more than two times. The American judicial authorities afterward sentenced criminals, with some of them getting imprisonment for 12 years and a life sentence," the official said.

The official is quite surprised by Trump's policy in this regard, noting that the executive authority in democratic countries does not interfere in the work of judicial bodies.

"But US president Trump interfered and granted a pardon, which violates the right of public prosecution, the defendant's right, as well as the right of the victims’ families. I do not see any reasons for the US president to pardon and release them [contractors]," the official said.

The Iraqi official noted that this step has coincided with the ongoing recess of the country's parliament, but once all of the lawmakers returned, they would request the authority's speaker during the first session to forward a letter to the cabinet of ministers, a number of embassies, the European Union and the UN Security Council to condemn this step.

"We urge Russia and the major countries [to join Iraq] and ask the Russian president to task Russia's representative to the [UN] Security Council with a view to back Iraq on this issue," al-Asadi said.

The four former contractors were convicted six years ago. Nicholas Slatten was serving a life sentence on first-degree murder charges while the others received sentences of between 12-15 years. The incident with Blackwater contractors sparked an international debate about the role of private security companies hired by the US government to work in war zones.

Private military company Blackwater, founded in 1997, was later sold and rebranded as Academi.

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