Saturday, March 28, 2009

Iraq: Blackwater faces new claims they demonstrated "a pattern and practice of recklessness in the use of deadly force."

A group of injured civilians and families of Iraqis killed in two unprovoked shootings in Baghdad by Blackwater "shooters" sued the company and founder Erik Prince in separate lawsuits filed today and Thursday in California federal court, according to their U.S.-based legal team.

The lawsuits allege that several Blackwater defendants - now operating as Xe and other names under the control of Mr. Prince - have demonstrated "a pattern and practice of recklessness in the use of deadly force."

The first case was brought by the family of Sa'ad Raheem Jarallah, a 53-year-old teacher at a technical institution in the city of Al Amara, who was killed by Blackwater personnel near Al Watahba Square while in Baghdad on school business on Sept. 9, 2007.

According to the complaint, Blackwater "shooters" fired "without justification, on a crowd of innocent Iraqi persons in and around Al Watahba Square resulting in multiple deaths and injuries." The complaint continues, "This senseless slaughter ... was only one in a series of recent incidents in Blackwater's lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct in Iraq resulting in the deaths of innocent Iraqis."

The second case involves another Blackwater civilian shooting - the infamous Sept. 16, 2007 Nisoor Square massacre which killed 17 people and resulted in criminal prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice against Blackwater personnel. One Blackwater employee has pled guilty, admitting that Blackwater personnel were not protecting diplomats or being threatened and instead intentionally killed innocents after ignoring orders to stay in the International Zone by the U.S. Embassy Regional Security Office.

The 15 plaintiffs include the estates of 12-year-old Qasim Mohamed Abbas Mahmoud, who was shot while riding in a car with his father, who also was killed, and his mother, who was injured; numerous men and women who were in or around Nisoor Square; and two Baghdad police officers, whose attempts to stop the killing allegedly were ignored by Blackwater personnel.

According to the complaint, "Xe - Blackwater created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life."

The defendants are accused of committing war crimes, assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, training and supervision, and tortious spoliation of evidence. The complaint also includes allegations of drug use and cover-ups of illegal conduct by Xe - Blackwater personnel.

The families of the dead and injured are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T. O'Neil and William F. Gould of Burke O'Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C., and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Susan L. Burke, of Burke O'Neil LLC, stated, "These deaths are part of a pattern of illegal Xe - Blackwater shootings around the globe known to company management. With the litany of civilian shootings by Xe - Blackwater personnel, the company has created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability."

Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher stated, "The Iraqi victims of Xe - Blackwater's unlawful actions have come to U.S. courts in search of justice. Justice begins with accountability, and private military contractors must be held accountable when they shoot innocent people."

The defendants in both cases include Mr. Prince, Xe, various Prince-controlled entities such as Blackwater, The Prince Group, Falcon, Greystone Limited, Total Intelligence Solutions, EP Investments, and Raven Development Group.

The cases are:

* "Estate of Sa'ad Raheem Jarallah v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.," in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09 CV 0 631 H JMA), and,
* "Estate of Mushtaq Karim Abd Al-Razzaq, et al., v. Xe, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, et al.," in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (Case No. 09 CV 0626 LAB BLM).

For information about other cases pending against Xe - Blackwater, please see and

Source: Burke O'Neil LLC; Center for Constitutional Rights
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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