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Iraqi panel: Blackwater guards should face murder charges
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An Iraqi government panel investigating last month's deadly shooting involving Blackwater security contractors calls the guards' actions "premeditated murder."
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday that the investigative commission formed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accused the American company's contractors of indiscriminately firing on citizens and violating the rights of Iraqis.
The September 16 shooting in Baghdad's Nusoor Square left 17 people dead and 27 others wounded, al-Dabbagh said. Seven vehicles were destroyed. Al-Dabbagh said the commission, formed September 22, determined there was no proof the Blackwater convoy was under direct or indirect fire.
"Not even a stone was thrown at them," al-Dabbagh said. He added the contractors violated the rules of conduct and regulations for private security firms operating in Iraq. "They must be held accountable according to the law," al-Dabbagh said, emphasizing that those responsible should be prosecuted for "premeditated murder."
He said Iraq's government is awaiting the recommendations of this committee and the joint Iraqi-American panel in determining how to proceed legally. It is unclear whether the work of the Iraqi panel has been completed. Security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation.
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