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Blackwater ex-employees accuse company of misconduct in Iraq

[JURIST] The security company known formerly as Blackwater Worldwide [official website; JURIST news archive] and its former CEO and founder Erik Prince illegally smuggled weapons into Iraq, indiscriminately killed Iraqi civilians, and committed a number of other crimes, according to sworn affidavits of two former employees filed this week in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website]. The affidavits of John Doe #1 [text, PDF] and John Doe #2 [text, PDF], filed Monday, allege that Prince fraudulently ran his corporations to avoid tax liability, encouraged the killing of Iraqis, deployed men he knew to be incompetent to handle lethal weaponry, provided his men in Iraq illegal weapons such as grenade launchers and ammunition that would explode after entering a target, illegally sold weapons, knowingly failed to stop the use of prostitutes &mdash including child prostitutes &mdash by his employees, and that Blackwater frequently used unnecessary force against Iraqis. Both John Does refused to give their real names, hinting that Blackwater had killed at least one other person who planned to testify against it. The affidavits were filed as part of a brief [text, PDF] opposing Blackwater's motion to dismiss [text, PDF] lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against by families of slain Iraqi civilians. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday. Blackwater, which is now named Xe, will respond [CNN report] to what it has termed false allegations in a brief that will be filed August 17.

Blackwater ended its operations in Iraq [JURIST report] in May. In February, a judge rejected a jurisdictional challenge [JURIST report] by five Blackwater employees accused of killing 17 Iraqis [JURIST report] in September 2007. The five guards were indicted [text, PDF; JURIST report] in December on charges of voluntary manslaughter, attempt to commit manslaughter, and using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, which carries a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence. The guards pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] in January. A sixth guard pleaded guilty [text, PDF] to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter for his role in the same incident.

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