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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Former Blackwater executives indicted on weapons charges
Bhargav Katikaneni at 10:05 AM ET

[JURIST] A federal grand jury on Friday indicted [press release] five former Blackwater [JURIST news archive] executives on charges of weapons violations and lying to criminal investigators. The 15-count indictment [LAT report] charges five former executives, including former president Gary Jackson, with giving away certain weapons to the King of Jordan to curry favor and then lying on federal forms about where the weapons went. The indictment also charges the executives with trying to hide weapons purchases by acting through an intermediary, avoiding regulations on the export of short-barreled rifles, and making false statements to investigators. Jackson and other Blackwater officials have said that federal officials knew of the weapons purchases [VOA report] for years but did nothing.

In February, the Iraqi government ordered approximately 250 former Blackwater employees to leave Iraq [JURIST report]. The government was reacting to a US federal court's December decision to dismiss charges against five former Blackwater employees accused of killing 17 innocent Iraqi civilians [JURIST reports] in 2007 because information against the defendants was obtained unconstitutionally. Earlier that month, the New York Times reported that the US Department of Justice [official website] is investigating [JURIST report] Blackwater, now known as Xe, to determine whether the company bribed the Iraqi government to allow Blackwater to continue operating in Iraq following the 2007 shootings. In January, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced that Iraq will file lawsuits against Blackwater [JURIST reports] for the 2007 killings in both US and Iraqi courts. US Vice-President Joe Biden has said that the DOJ will appeal the dismissal [JURIST report]. Blackwater ceased operations in Baghdad [JURIST report] in May 2009 when its security contracts for the protection of US diplomats expired.

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