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Blackwater staff get no death penalty

Press TV [1]
April 20, 2010

Two Americans, charged with killing two Afghan civilians, will not face the death penalty should they be convicted, US federal prosecutors say.

In May 2009, two contractors, Justin Cannon and Christopher Drotleff, from the private security firm previously known as ‘Blackwater’, allegedly killed two Afghans at an intersection in Kabul.

The contractors, arrested in January, have been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of attempted murder with a weapon apiece. They could face life in prison if convicted at the trial.

Prosecutor Randy Stoker told US District Judge Robert Doumar during a brief hearing on Monday that the attorney general had decided against pursuing the death penalty.

Stoker did not give a reason for the decision and he, along with the other prosecutors, declined to comment to reporters after the hearing.


Cannon and Drotleff were employed by a unit of Xe, the company formerly known as ‘Blackwater’. They were training the Afghan National Army.

The two contractors have said they were justified in opening fire on a car that caused an accident in front of their vehicle. They say they fired after the vehicle sped toward them.

However, prosecutors say the men had been drinking on the day of the shooting in violation of military and company policy.

The case is one of several criminal cases related to Blackwater. In 2007, Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians in an ‘unprovoked’ attack in Baghdad.