Iraq police free 3 U.S. contractors
The Iraqi police Wednesday released three of the five U.S. contractors who were detained last week in connection with the slaying last month of an American in Baghdad’s Green Zone enclave, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.
The men were freed on bail, but were forbidden to leave Iraq during the investigation of the death of Jim Kitterman, a 60-year-old construction contractor from Texas, said Rafae Munahe, a senior advisor to Interior Minister Jawad Bolani.
“They cannot leave the country. When the court meets, they have to attend,” Munahe said. “They may or may not be charged.”
Judy Feeney, the wife of one of the detainees, confirmed that her husband, Donald Feeney Jr., 55, had been released but had no information about the other men, including her son Donald Feeney III, 31.
Judy Feeney said a U.S. Embassy official told the wife of one of the other men that the embassy expected all five Americans to be released soon.
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said it had no information about the matter.
The five men were arrested Friday in a raid on their compound, where Feeney Jr. and his son directed the Iraq branch of their security firm, Corporate Training Unlimited. Two of the other detainees worked for CTU; the fifth had been staying with them.
The Feeney family has insisted that all five men are innocent. Feeney Jr.'s other son, John Feeney, said Sunday that his father had flown back to Iraq from the Philippines on May 22, the day Kitterman’s body was discovered, and his brother and two of the other detainees were at an embassy party at the time the contractor was thought to have been killed. He described his father and Kitterman as close friends.
If the five men are charged in the case, they will be the first Americans brought before an Iraqi court since the U.S. and Iraqi governments signed a security agreement late last year.
The agreement, which hands full responsibility for security to the Iraqi government and calls for U.S. forces to leave Iraqi cities at the end of June, allows for Western contractors to be tried in Iraqi courts. Previously, contractors working for the U.S. government and military had immunity from the Iraqi legal system.
The policy had led to resentment and outrage among Iraqis over repeated incidents in which Western security contractors opened fire on civilians and weren’t prosecuted.