Dozens of Iraqis travel to US to testify against Blackwater in 2007 massacre case

DATE IMPORTED:September 20, 2007A man who was wounded in a shooting attack by the security guards of Blackwater firm on Sunday, is helped by his relatives in a hospital in Baghdad, September 20, 2007. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki suggested on Wednesday the U.S. embassy stop using American security firm Blackwater after a deadly shooting, saying he would not allow Iraqis to be killed in "cold blood". REUTERS/Ceerwan Aziz (IRAQ)


A man wounded in a shooting attack by Blackwater guards is helped by relatives in a hospital in Baghdad, September 20, 2007. [Reuters]

Sarhan Deab Abdul Moniem leaving court on Tuesday after testifying in the Blackwater trial.  Gabriella Demczuk/NYT


Sarhan Deab Abdul Moniem leaving court on Tuesday after testifying in the Blackwater trial. Gabriella Demczuk/NYT

In today's New York Times, Matt Apuzzo profiles the more than four dozen Iraqi witnesses testifying against the security firm once known as Blackwater, then Xe, now Academi.

The witnesses say guards fired wildly on innocent and unarmed Iraqi citizens, killing 17.

This will be the largest number of foreign witnesses to testify in a criminal trial in the United States, according to the Department of Justice.

The witness wore a suit with no tie, the top button of his gray shirt undone. He had told this story many times, and now that he was in the United States, telling his story at last to a jury, he appeared neither hurried nor anxious.

Sarhan Deab Abdul Moniem was a traffic officer that day in September 2007, when a convoy of Blackwater Worldwide trucks pulled into his traffic circle in Baghdad and started shooting. He held up two hands, showing jurors how he had pleaded with the American security contractors to stop. Through a translator, he spoke in a matter-of-fact way about running toward a victim inside a white Kia sedan.

“There was a lady. She was screaming and weeping about her son and asking for help,” Mr. Moniem said. He showed jurors how she had cradled her dead son’s head on her shoulder. “I asked her to open up the door so I could help her. But she was paying attention only to her son.”

"In U.S. Court, Iraqis Accusing Blackwater of Murders in ’07" [nytimes.com]

As one might expect, lawyers for the defense say the Iraqi witnesses' testimony is "orchestrated" and not credible. [AP] They argue the guards were acting in self-defense. [Reuters]

Blackwater Worldwide security guard Nick Slatten (C) and attorneys leave the federal courthouse after being arraigned with 4 fellow Blackwater guards on manslaughter charges for killing unarmed civilians  in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, in Washington in this January 6, 2009 file photo. (Reuters)


Blackwater Worldwide security guard Nick Slatten (C) and attorneys leave the federal courthouse after being arraigned with 4 fellow Blackwater guards on manslaughter charges for killing unarmed civilians in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, in Washington in this January 6, 2009 file photo. (Reuters)

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