US Embassy offers just $12,500 for boy slain by Blackwater
Jason Rhyne
Published: Thursday October 25, 2007
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For the families of Iraqi civilians killed by the US security firm Blackwater last month, it may be difficult to place a monetary value on the loss of their loved ones -- but they agree it has to more than the few thousand dollars currently being offered up by the US Embassy.

The embassy made a rare move on Wednesday to compensate surviving victims and the families of fatalities related to a Sept. 16 shooting incident involving Blackwater's private security guards, according to a report in the Washington Post by Sudarsan Raghavan.

But the money being offered -- just 12,500 in one case involving the death of a 10-year old boy named Ali -- is being greeted with disgust by many.

Ali's father, Mohammad Hafud Abdul Razaq, turned the embassy's offer down cold, telling the US Embassy's deputy chief of mission Patracia Butenis the amount was "far too little." What he wanted, according to the Post, was an admission of guilt from Blackwater itself.

"The manager of Blackwater didn't apologize, and he didn't admit the crime," Razaq told the paper. "He didn't apologize for his crime...I told the ambassador 'You are fighting terrorist groups who are offering $100,000 for people who blow themselves up.'"

That sentiment is common among many of the families interviewed by the Post.

"This is an insult," said another man, Firoz Fadhil Abbas, who lost his brother. "The funeral and the wake cost more than what they offered. My brother who got killed was responsible for four families."

Another individual, Haitham Ahmed, who lost both his wife and son in the incident, said he refused to even sit down with the embassy's payment team in the Green Zone.

"On Saturday," writes Raghavan, "Ahmed met with a State Department official who asked him what he thought was fair compensation for his wife and son."

"They are priceless," replied Ahmed, who went on to tell the official that he would expect something similar to the Libyan government's $8 million compensation paid to families of victims who died in the Pan Am airline bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. "And you would have to deliver the criminals to an Iraqi court just like Libya delivered the criminals to the British."

Iraq's Interior Ministry has also arrived at the $8 million figure, and wants Blackwater operations banished from the country.

"U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo described the offers as 'condolence payments' to support the relatives of the victims and said the money was not intended to be a final settlement of their claims," reports the Post, who said Nantongo indicated that payments were "in no way a waiver of future claims."

Read the full article in the Washington Post.