Blackwater sued in US court over alleged cover-up

The widow of a 32-year-old Iraqi has filed suit in a federal court against private security firm Xe, formerly Blackwater, for allegedly trying to hide that her husband was killed by one of its security agents who was drunk.

According to the suit filed in federal court in San Diego, California, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, “on Christmas eve 2006, a highly intoxicated and heavily armed Xe-Blackwater employee named Andrew Moonen, shot and killed a man named Raheem Khalaf Sa’adoon, for no reason.”

“Although Xe-Blackwater has learned of their employee’s crime short after it occurred, Xe-Blackwater acted, and continues to act, in conspiracy with Moonen to evade any accountability whatsoever,” the suit charges.

The lawsuit also alleges the company rushed to get the agent out of Iraq, and destroyed documents in the case.

It also charges that Xe, which until recently was a contractor for the Department of State in Iraq, does not punish employees found guilty of wrongdoing, but “instead, Xe-Blackwater continued to rehire and deploy mercenaries known to have killed innocents.”

The company, which made hundreds of millions of dollars protecting State Department officials in war zones, was banned from working in Iraq two months ago because of a 2007 incident in which 17 civilians were killed by Blackwater guards.

An Iraqi investigation found that 17 civilians were killed and 20 wounded when Blackwater guards opened fire with automatic weapons in Baghdad while escorting an American diplomatic convoy.

US prosecutors say 14 civilians were killed in the incident. Five former Blackwater guards pleaded not guilty in January to manslaughter charges.

“From Mr. Sa’adoon’s death to the litany of other civilian shootings by Xe-Blackwater personnel, the company has created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability,” said a statement from Susan Burke, an attorney for Sa’adoon’s widow.