Friday, May 09, 2014

Two murder trials?

There are Iraq related legal developments today.  First, Iraq War veteran Matt Maupin who was captured April 9, 2004. In a briefs roundup, March 30th, 2008, in a briefs round up of various news, the Washington Post noted:

The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 says the military has informed him that his son's remains were found in Iraq.
Keith Maupin said that an Army general told him Sunday that DNA was used to identify the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, who went by "Matt."
Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy was ambushed west of Baghdad. Arabic television network al-Jazeera aired a videotape a week later showing Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

Today, Amanda Lee Myers (AP) reports that a trial date has been set in Iraq for next Tuesday for an Iraqi whom Lt Col Alayne Conway states has "confessed to killing Maupin."  An unnamed Iraqi judge states the confession took place in 2009 and led to a conviction and sentence of death; however, the conviction's set aside or reversed as a result of some paperwork issue resulting in the need for a new trial.

For background on the other legal development, we need to drop back to the Monday, September 17, 2007 Iraq snapshot:

Turning to the issue of violence, Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Sunday that  a Baghdad shooting (by private contractors) killed 9 Iraqi civilians and left fifteen more wounded. Later on Sunday, CNN reported, "In the Baghdad gun battle, which was between security forces and unidentified gunmen, eight people were killed and 14 wounded, most of them civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Details were sketchy, but the official said witnesses told police that the security forces involved appeared to be Westerners driving sport utility vehicles, which are usually used by Western companies. The clash occurred near Nisoor square, in western Baghdad.  CBS and AP report that Abdul-Karim Khalaf, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, announced "it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of civilians during an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade in Baghdad," that "it would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force" in the slaughter (eight dead, 13 wounded) and they "have canceled the liscense of Blcakwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory." 

No one's come to justice thus far as the result of deals the State Dept made with Blackwater.  They basically offered immunity for information -- why they'd do something like that, why anyone would?  To prevent anyone from being prosecuted.

This goes to who Blackwater was 'protecting' --  a detail the US government has never seen fit to provide to the public.

And if we're talking guilt and healing, it's really shameful that a member or members or the US government were present and have never issued a public statement expressing remorse over the deaths of Iraqis in this incident.

Aruna Viswanatha and Peter Galloway (Reuters) report that Nicholas Slatten   has been indicated by a federal grand jury in the shooting.  Here's the thing if the US government wants to actually do something, they need to go forward with a trial that doesn't use the statements of Slatten or 3 other contractors.

I don't know why you need the statements.

It doesn't matter whether the State Dept could legally grant immunity or not.  That's a non-issue and it needs to be let go.

Four people were offered immunity and made statements based on that offer.

Those statements need to be set aside and not dealt with in any case.  

It's not complicated.

'Oh, there are confessions, we must use them!'  No.  And we don't ever, on the left, argue such a ridiculous claim.  We're fully aware of the fruit of the poison tree.

What's the key to this case?

For one thing, US officials' embarrassment.

There's no reason to keep hidden who was traveling with Blackwater that day.

It's not a national secret.

And when you get that name or names, you then have a witness or witnesses who can take to the stand.

Who can be cross-examined.

I don't know why you'd have any problems pursuing the case that way.

Investigators (government investigators who conducted the initial investigations) can also testify provided everyone agrees that the four statements made by the four suspects under the offer of immunity are set aside and not used in the case.

Regardless of the outcome of a trial and what a jury might determine, Iraqis are dead from this incident and the notion that the American public and the Iraqi public don't have a right to know whom Blackwater was allegedly protecting is laughable.  This should have been made public long ago and this person or these people need to testify in public in open court about what happened -- that's the least they can do -- and they only do very little clearly since they've never felt the need to issue a statement noting their regret that Iraqis died that day.

While this 7-year-old assault continues to get large attention, Nouri al-Maliki's four months of killing civilians in Falluja in what is collective punishment (a legally defined War Crime) gets far less attention.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes the assault today increased as Nouri attempts to 'retake' Falluja (when was Nouri ever in charge of Falluja?).  Tawfeeq notes, "About 700,000 people live in Falluja, a Sunni city in Anbar province west of Baghdad. More than 300 people, most of whom are civilians, have been killed in Falluja since the beginning of the year."  NINA notes the military's shelling of residential neighborhoods today left 7 civilians dead and thirteen more injured.

In other violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports 4 Yezidis were shot dead in Karanah Village, an al-Qayyarah roadside bombing left 3 police members dead and two more injured, a Tammooz roadside bombing left three police members injured, a Tikrit roadside bombing and armed attack left 3 police members dead and one police officer injured, and Joint Operations Command announced they killed 2 suspects.

The following community sites -- plus Ms. magazine's blog, Jody Watley,, Pacifica Evening News, Susan's On the Edge, Jake Tapper and Cindy Sheehan -- updated:

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