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US to Review Court Decision on Blackwater

The U.S. State Department says it will review a recent U.S. court ruling that dismissed charges against five American private security guards accused of killing at least 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007.

A federal judge last month dropped charges against the Blackwater Worldwide guards, saying federal prosecutors violated their constitutional rights by using statements they made under immunity.

The decision angered the Iraqi government, which says it has filed its own lawsuit against the private security firm.

On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley released a statement saying the judge's decision does not exonerate the defendants or necessarily terminate the proceedings. He says the State Department and Justice Department will assess all available legal options.

The five Blackwater guards had been charged with manslaughter, after allegedly opening fire on civilians at a Baghdad intersection without provocation.

A sixth guard pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges.

The State Department said Friday that the United States will take significant steps to improve the oversight and accountability of U.S. security contractors worldwide.

Following the 2007 shooting, Blackwater lost its license to operate in Iraq, along with many of its lucrative contracts with the U.S. State Department.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe after the Baghdad incident.

On Thursday, a United Nations group of independent experts called on the United States and Iraq to cooperate to ensure those responsible for the shooting are held accountable.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.