Thanks to the New Year’s holiday, Iraq seemed exceptionally quiet today. No violent attacks were reported; however, other Iraq-related items were in the headlines. Foremost, a U.S. judge dismissed charges against five Blackwater contractors accused of firing upon Iraqi civilians. Also, recently released hostage Peter Moore is planning his return to his home in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, new details from yesterday’s bombing in Ramadi emerged.
A U.S. federal judge dismissed all charges against five Blackwater contractors accused of murdering 17 Iraqis in a 2007 shootout in Baghdad. The men stood accused of firing into a crowd in Mansour’s Nisour Square. A sixth man admitted to killing at least one Iraqi that day. The judge threw out the charges because prosecutors improperly used evidence that “compromised the constitutional rights of the accused.” After the incident Blackwater changed the company name to Xe Corp. and paid Iraqi officials to silence their criticism.
A Shi’ite cleric thought responsible for Peter Moore’s kidnapping in May 2007 could see freedom soon. U.S. forces handed Qais al-Khazali, the head of the Asa’ib al-Haq (the League of the Righteous), over to Iraqi Authorities as part of a loose deal to release Moore. Although he is expected to stand before the Iraqi criminal system now, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is said to have already promised his quick release. Meanwhile, the U.K. is playing down reports of Iranian involvement in the kidnapping. Moore, who appears heavier after his release, will return home shortly.
Sources in Ramadi reported that a provincial council member died of injuries received in yesterday’s bombing. Contrary to rumors, Governor Qassem Mohammad al-Fahdawi survived the attack; however his left hand was amputated. Deputy Governor Fouad Jattab will take over Fahdawi’s duties while the governor recovers from his injuries. Major General Tareq Yusuf was fired from his job as police chief due to the attack. The city remains under curfew as residents mourn the dead.
Two suspects were detained and a weapons cache was confiscated in Diwaniya.
Twenty-three suspects were arrested in Basra province.
Security forces near al-Madhhouriya village dismantled two rockets.
In Missan, police prevented the smuggling of various antiquities.
Former Bucca prison detainees stand accused of attacks in Taza.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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