AFP via Raw Story
WASHINGTON — A former Blackwater security guard was sentenced to three years and one month in prison Tuesday for involuntary manslaughter in a Kabul shooting in 2009, the US Justice Department announced.
Christopher Drotleff, 31, and Justin Cannon, 29, another former Blackwater employee, were convicted in March of involuntary manslaughter of Romal Mohammad Naiem, an unarmed Afghan civilian.
Cannon will be sentenced on June 27. [UPDATE: Cannon’s sentence was 30 months in prison.]
Both men fired several multiple shots at a passing car after the lead vehicle in their convoy crashed in the middle of the night and overturned on its side.
Naiem, the passenger in the car, was fatally shot, and his driver injured. Another Afghan man walking his dog in the area was also fatally shot, although both men were acquitted of charges in his death and the shooting of the driver.
Both Drotleff and Cannon said they had legitimate concerns for their safety, and had pleaded not guilty.
“Christopher Drotleff recklessly fired his nine millimeter pistol at unarmed Afghan civilians, killing two people and shattering the lives of many more,” said US Attorney Neil MacBride in a statement.
According to the statement, both Drotleff and Cannon left their military base on May 5, 2009 to transport local translators when the accident took place.
Blackwater was renamed Xe after it was caught up in several scandals in Iraq, in particular the deaths of between 14 and 17 civilians in Baghdad in September 2007.
Blackwater ‘Grey Mailing’ Saves It From Justice?
By Wayne Madsen
Published: 08 January 2010
Blackwater company’s cooperation with CIA makes it virtually immune to justice, said investigative journalist Wayne Madsen.
“What we are seeing from [company founder] Erik Prince, with his series of interviews with Vanity Fair – where we are hearing about assassination squads trying to get a German-Syrian citizen in Hamburg, possibly trying to assassinate a Pakistani nuclear scientist in Pakistan – is what is known as ‘grey mailing,’” he said.
“Prince is basically saying, ‘I know a lot more, and if you keep up with the indictments against my company and my individuals, I am prepared to release much more damaging information to the media,” Madsen added.
In a recent development, two former Blackwater security guards, Justin Cannon, 27, and Christopher Drotleff, 29, have been charged with the murder of two people after a traffic accident in Kabul last May. Both contractors claim they were justified in opening fire after a car that caused an accident in front of their vehicle turned and sped toward them after they got out to help.
“I feel comfortable firing my weapon anytime I feel my life is in danger,”
Drotleff was quoted by AP as saying.
“That night, my life was 100 percent in danger.”
If found guilty, the men could face the death penalty.
More from my site