Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Iraq to end contractor immunity


The Iraqi government has approved a draft law revoking the immunity from prosecution private security contractors enjoy under Iraqi law.

The law, which has been referred to parliament, would revoke an order set up after the US-led invasion in 2003.

Foreign guards would also be subject to searches at Iraqi checkpoints and be required to carry licences for weapons.

Earlier, reports said guards accused of shooting dead 17 Iraqis might have been offered partial immunity by the US.

Unnamed US officials said the offer, by a branch of the US state department, was unauthorised.

It could make it much more difficult to prosecute the guards employed by US-based firm Blackwater, the officials said.

An Iraqi government investigation has concluded that Blackwater guards fired without provocation during the incident in Baghdad on 16 September.

Blackwater has insisted its staff acted only in self defence after insurgents fired upon the US diplomatic convoy they were protecting.

It has also welcomed the launch of an FBI investigation into the fatal shootings.

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