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Judge: No Military Protection for Blackwater Lawyers
Posted By Joe Palazzolo On November 16, 2009 @ 6:41 pm In News | Comments Disabled
Lawyers for a group of former Blackwater guards accused of voluntary manslaughter will not be protected by the U.S. military when they go to Iraq to prepare for trial, a federal judge ruled  Monday.
The lawyers requested  a military detail similar to that afforded to federal prosecutors and agents as they put together their case against the five former guards, who are charged in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqis in a crowded square in Baghdad.
Justice Department lawyers had called the request “radical” and unnecessary.
Judge Ricardo Urbina, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the guards’ lawyers, “who never asserted an inability to finance their own security measures,” did not show that private security companies operating in Iraq could not ensure their safety.
The government provided the lawyers with a list of companies to pick from, but defense lawyers argued they could not offer the same level of protection as the military. Urbina disagreed.
[T]he defendants have offered no support for the assertion that none of the private security companies identified by the DOD in the September 30 Letter can provide the security necessary for the defense team to safely conduct a pretrial investigation in Iraq.
In his opinion, Urbina cited the regional security officer for the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, who noted that private contractors provide security for a range of government personnel visiting Iraq.
The judge, however, granted the lawyers’ request for updated contact information for the alleged victims and Brady witnesses identified by the government.
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