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FBI investigators say Blackwater Iraqi civilian killings unjustified: NYT

[JURIST] An FBI investigation [JURIST report] has concluded that private security personnel in Iraq shot and killed 14 Iraqi civilians without justification during a September 16 incident [JURIST report] in Baghdad, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The investigators found that many as five Blackwater USA [corporate website; JURIST news archive] guards fired on civilians during the shootings, which killed 17 Iraqi civilians and prompted the Iraqi government to withdraw the company's operating license [JURIST report]. The FBI said that three of the killings may have been justified, including that of a physician and her son, though relatives say they were on a family errand at the time the guards opened fire. Under US State Department [official website] policy as quoted by the New York Times, lethal force is justified "only in response to an imminent threat of deadly force or serious physical injury against the individual, those under the protection of the individual or other individuals."

The Blackwater allegations have caused domestic outrage in Iraq and have prompted legal controversy in the US. Iraqi government investigators probing the killings have concluded that the Blackwater security detail's actions were unprovoked, and amounted to "deliberate murder" [JURIST report]. Last month, The Iraqi cabinet approved [JURIST report] a draft law [JURIST report] that would strip foreign security contractors of immunity from Iraqi prosecution. The US House has passed a bill that would expand US jurisdiction over the same private contractors [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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