US says no death penalty for Blackwater murders in Afghanistan

U.S. prosecutors said in the case that they will not seek the death penalty even if the two contractors are convicted at trial.

US says no death penalty for Blackwater murders in Afghanistan

Two contractors from the private security firm previously known as Blackwater Worldwide and working for the U.S. Defense Department will not face the death penalty if convicted on charges that they murdered two Afghans in Kabul.

Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff were arrested in January and charged with 13 counts related to the shooting deaths of the two Afghans and the wounding of a third person in Kabul on May 9, 2009.

U.S. prosecutors told the judge in the case on Monday that they will not seek the death penalty even if the two contractors are convicted at trial. The men have pleaded not guilty but, if convicted, they could still face life in prison.

Cannon has said that the shootings were "self defense" as they drove Afghan translators to their homes in Kabul when they were hit by a speeding car. They opened fire on the car as it tried to make another pass, he said, according to court records.

Prosecutors have a different version of events and say the accused drank alcohol throughout the day at a farewell party for co-workers and left the base without authorization before the car accident and shooting.

In the U.S. government's version of events, another vehicle approached the scene but turned away when the passengers saw that Cannon and Drotleff were agitated, according to the court records. As that car drove away, the two Americans fired.

One person in the vehicle and another on the street were struck by the gunfire and killed. The other passenger in the vehicle was wounded.

Reuters

Last Mod: 20 Nisan 2010, 13:46
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