Blackwater, the US security firm whose armed personnel allegedly opened fire on innocent Iraqi civilians last month, was sued Thursday by an injured survivor and three families of the men killed in the incident.
Blackwater Chief Executive Erik Prince holds a photograph of the remains of a blown up vehicle in Iraq while testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on security contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 2, 2007.
Philadelphia law firm Burke O'Neil, the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, and Akeel & Valentine of Birmingham, Alabama, filed a lawsuit to the federal district court in Washington DC on behalf of the Blackwater victims.
The plaintiffs alleged that Blackwater "created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company's financial interests at the expense of innocent human life."
They said Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute by committing extra judicial killings and war crimes, and that the firm should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision.
"This senseless slaughter was only the latest incident in a lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct by Blackwater in Iraq," Philadelphia attorney Susan Burke, who represents the Iraqis in the case, said in a statement.
On September 16, Blackwater guards shot dead 17 Iraqis and injured many more in Baghdad.
Blackwater is a major military contractor providing security services to US State Department personnel in Iraq.
The Iraqi government has called on the Bush administration to sever its ties with Blackwater in Iraq and for the company to pay US$8 million in compensation to each of the Iraqi families.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2007)