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December 19, 2007, Washington, D.C. - The estate of an Iraqi man who was killed when Blackwater personnel opened fire on innocent bystanders in and around Al Watahba Square in Baghdad on Sept. 9 sued the private military contractor in Washington federal court today.
The family of Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz, who was the father of a newborn daughter, filed new claims against Blackwater and affiliated companies, according to their U.S.-based legal team.
The lawsuit alleges that heavily armed Blackwater mercenaries, known in company parlance as “shooters,” fired without justification and killed five civilians, including Mr. Albazzaz, who was standing outside his rug store. Numerous other civilians were injured in the incident.
The estate is represented by Susan L. Burke, William T. O’Neil and Rosemary B. Healy of Burke O’Neil LLC, of Philadelphia; Michael Ratner and Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, of Birmingham, Mich.
Susan L. Burke, of Burke O’Neil LLC, stated, “The culture of lawlessness created and fostered by Blackwater has exacted a terrible toll on innocent people in Iraq. Once again, Blackwater ‘shooters’ senselessly ended the innocent life of Mr. Albazzaz. We continue to believe that the ongoing government investigations and this litigation will prove that Blackwater’s interests are contrary to the interests of the U.S. military, the State Department, and the nation of Iraq.”
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “The rule of law in every civilized nation in the world is that there is no legitimate reason to indiscriminately kill innocent bystanders. We believe that the acts of Blackwater in this incident and others involving civilians were deliberate, willful, intentional, wanton, malicious and oppressive and constitute war crimes. Blackwater is harming the United States by its repeated and consistent failure to act in accord with the law of war, the laws of the United States, and international law.”
Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC, stated, “Our legal team met the family of Mr. Albazzaz. We could see the horrible pain in their eyes. They are grieving for their terrible loss. The Albazzaz family has lost an honorable, decent man whose primary concern was providing for and protecting his family. We hope to obtain justice for the family.”
The case is Estate of Ali Hussamaldeen Albazzaz v. Blackwater Worldwide, et al. (C.A. 1:07-CV-02273 RBW) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In October and November, two survivors and the estates of five civilians killed on Sept. 16 when Blackwater personnel allegedly opened fire in Nisoor Square in Baghdad also filed suit against Blackwater USA and affiliated companies in federal court in Washington.
The complaints in both lawsuits allege that Blackwater violated the federal Alien Tort Statute in committing war crimes, and that Blackwater should be liable for claims of assault and battery, wrongful death, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, training and supervision. The lawsuits seek compensatory damages for death, physical, mental, and economic injuries, and punitive damages.
The defendants include Blackwater Worldwide, Blackwater USA, Blackwater Security Consulting LLC, The Prince Group LLC, and Blackwater founder Erik Prince.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.