Biden vows the US will appeal in Iraq Blackwater case
US Vice-President Joe Biden says the US government will appeal against a court ruling dismissing manslaughter charges in the Blackwater shootings case.
Mr Biden was speaking after meeting Iraqi politicians in Baghdad.
Iraqis were furious when a US judge threw out charges against five Blackwater security guards over the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad.
Mr Biden is in Iraq in an attempt to defuse a political crisis over candidates for the election in March.
Mr Biden said the dismissal of the Blackwater charges was just that and “not an acquittal”.
Expressing “personal regret” over the 16 September 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, he said the US justice department would file its appeal against the court’s decision next week.
“The United States is determined to hold to account anyone who commits crimes against Iraqi people,” Mr Biden added.
“While we fully respect the independence and the integrity of the US judicial system, we were disappointed with the judge’s decision to dismiss the indictment, which was based on the way some evidence had been acquired.”
Iraq maintains the Blackwater guards fired without provocation. Blackwater said the firing followed an ambush on one of its convoys.
The US rejected attempts for a trial in Iraq but charges in the US were thrown out when a judge ruled in December that the guards’ constitutional rights had been violated and that the justice department had mishandled evidence.
The ruling provoked anger in Iraq and this month the Iraqi government began collecting signatures for a class action lawsuit on behalf of people killed or wounded in incidents involving Blackwater.
Iraq said it would seek compensation for a number of such cases and would continue to “act forcefully and decisively to prosecute”.
The 2007 incident caused widespread public anger against foreign security companies operating in Iraq and their activities have been severely curbed since then.