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Still no Charges in Fatal Shooting of Bodyguard for Iraqi VP Print
AP - August 11, 2007

Eight months after the shooting in Baghdad, no one associated with it wants to talk publicly. And no one has been charged.

It happened on Christmas Eve, when an inebriated employee of North Carolina-based Blackwater USA -- the largest supplier of private guards in Iraq -- shot and killed a security guard for an Iraqi vice president, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.
The American employee was not a guard, but like many contractors in Iraq, he was armed. He had gotten lost on the way home -- in this case his barracks in the massively fortified International Zone, a bunker full of edgy soldiers, contractors, and diplomats in the middle of war-blasted Baghdad.

Confronted by the Iraqi guard, the American fired at least seven times, according to an official in the vice president's office who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the incident is under investigation.

The contractor fled. Eventually, he made his way to the U.S. embassy where Blackwater officials arranged to have him flown home to the United States, said U.S. officials who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The FBI is investigating the incident, said spokesman John Kolko. The contractor has been fired and Blackwater is cooperating with federal investigators, said company spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell.

The company refused to name the employee.

Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities are conducting their own investigation into the shooting death of Raheem Khalaf Saadoun, 30, a guard for Shiite Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahd, and are sharing information with U.S. authorities, according to an official in Abdul-Mahd's office.

The shooting was briefly mentioned earlier this year in a little-noticed congressional hearing. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, confronted Blackwater attorney Andrew G. Howell during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting on the giant firm's role in Iraq.

Kucinich asked about the Christmas Eve shooting involving Blackwater's employee.

"Did your company order that man back to the United States?" the congressman asked.

"Blackwater did bring him back," said an obviously flustered Howell.

"I just want to point out that there's a question that could actually make their corporate officers accessories here in helping to create a flight from justice for someone who's committed a murder," Kucinich told committee chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

The shooting has not been publicly discussed since.

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