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Iraqi panel: Blackwater guards should face murder charges

  • Story Highlights
  • "Not even a stone was thrown at them," Iraqi official says of Blackwater guards
  • Iraq says 17 Iraqis killed by Blackwater guards in Baghdad square
  • Blackwater, Iraqi officials have starkly different accounts of what happened
  • Iraqi panel is calling for $8 million per victim in the September 16 shooting
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An Iraqi report on last month's shootings involving security contractor Blackwater USA called the incident "pre-meditated murder" and is calling for $8 million in compensation for each of the 17 Iraqis who died, a senior Iraqi government official said Monday.

Lawyer Hassan Jabbar lies in a hospital after being injured in a shooting involving Blackwater contractors.

The results of the Iraqi investigation into the shootings is complete and will be presented to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government for review, the official said.

The report calls for the payments to go to the families of each of those killed in the shootings, he said.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Sunday that the Iraqi commission investigating the shootings has accused the company's guards of firing indiscriminately and without provocation on citizens and violating the rights of Iraqis.

Blackwater said its contractors "acted lawfully and appropriately in response to a hostile attack," and "the civilians reportedly fired upon by Blackwater professionals were, in fact, armed enemies, and Blackwater personnel returned defensive fire."

The September 16 shooting also left 27 other people wounded, al-Dabbagh said.

Seven vehicles were also destroyed in the incident, which occurred around Nusoor Square in western Baghdad.

Al-Dabbagh said the commission, formed September 22, determined there was no evidence the Blackwater convoy was under direct or indirect fire.

"Not even a stone was thrown at them," al-Dabbagh said.

He added the contractors violated the rules of conduct and regulations for private security firms operating in Iraq.

"They must be held accountable according to the law," he said.

However, security contractors have immunity from Iraqi law under a provision put into place in the early days of the U.S.-led occupation. Video Watch how supervision has been tightened on contractors »

Blackwater security contractors were guarding a State Department convoy. The company is one of a number of private security contractors in Iraq.

Last month's shooting has sparked fury in both countries and led to a series of new steps reviewing the role of U.S. contractors in Iraq.

The Iraqi-American joint committee met for the first time Sunday to begin reviewing security operations. It plans to issue a report offering recommendations to the Iraqi and U.S. governments.

Border crossings reopen

Five border crossings between Iran and Iraq's Kurdish region have been reopened, an Iraqi Kurdish regional government spokesman said.

Iran closed its border with the Iraqi region nearly two weeks ago to protest the U.S. military's incarceration of an Iranian arrested September 20 in Sulaimaniya.

The U.S. military maintains that Mahmoud Farhadi was posing as a businessman with a trade delegation and was in charge of Zafar Command, one of three units of the Ramazan Corps of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani blasted the United States for the arrest, saying Farhadi is an Iranian civil servant who was on an official trade mission in the region.

The U.S. military has long accused Quds Force agents of training and equipping Iraqi insurgents, an allegation Iran vehemently denies.

Other developments

  • A parked-car bomb near the Polish Embassy in Baghdad on Monday killed two civilians and wounded five others, according to an Iraqi Interior Ministry official. Last Wednesday, a bomb injured the Polish ambassador to Iraq, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, and killed one of his security guards.
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  • Suicide truck bombers targeted police stations north of Baghdad on Monday, killing 14 people in a market north of Samarra and at least three at a checkpoint outside Tikrit, according to provincial officials and authorities in Baghdad. A nearby police station was the target of the market bombing, said Abdullah Jebara, deputy governor of Salaheddin province. Most of the dead were women and children on last-minute shopping trips before breaking their Ramadan fast, Jebara said.
  • U.S.-led coalition troops targeting a Shiite militant in Baghdad on Monday killed five militants and detained three others, the U.S. military said. The military thinks the insurgents are hard-line Shiite militants, including rogue elements of the Mehdi Army, the militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr has ordered a suspension of militia activities, but some militants have not observed the cease-fire.
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    CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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