BAGHDAD – The official Iraqi investigation into last month's Blackwater shooting has been submitted to the government and recommends the security guards face trial in Iraqi courts, and that the company pay compensation to the victims, an Iraqi government minister told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The three-member panel, led by Defense Minister Abdul-Qader al-Obeidi, finished its work earlier this week and submitted the report and recommendations to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Tuesday, the government minister told AP on condition he not be identified by name.
The minister said the report was issued under the signatures of al-Obeidi, Maj. Gen. Tariq al-Baldawi, the deputy minister of national security; and Maj. Gen. Hussein Ali Kamal, the deputy interior minister for intelligence and security affairs.
The cabinet minister said the report determined that 13 Iraqi civilians — not 11 as originally reported — were killed when Blackwater USA guards sprayed western Baghdad's Nisoor Square with gunfire Sept. 16. The investigation maintained, as Iraqi authorities have throughout, that the Blackwater guards had not been fired on when they unleashed the fusillade. It said no shots were fired at Blackwater personnel throughout.
Blackwater has said its guards, which protect State Department personnel in Baghdad, only used their weapons after they came under fire.
The Iraqi report said the Blackwater guards had violated accepted rules of engagement, should face trial in the Iraqi justice system, and that the company should compensate the families of the victims.