Employer Says U.S. Troops Shot Iraqi TV Producer ‘in Cold Blood'

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, January 4, 2009

BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 -- The employer of an Iraqi television producer shot and wounded by U.S. troops on New Year's Day disputed the military's assertion Saturday that she had acted suspiciously and had failed to heed warnings before the troops opened fire.

Hadil Imad, who works for the satellite station Beladi TV, was shot on a bridge in central Baghdad as she approached a group of U.S. troops working with Iraqi police. She suffered serious injuries and underwent surgery, her employer said.

The incident occurred on the day a security agreement between Iraq and the United States was implemented. Negotiations leading to the agreement, which replaced a U.N. Security Council mandate that authorized the U.S. military presence in Iraq, sparked a debate about the extent to which American troops could be held liable under Iraqi law for criminal acts or negligence.

The agreement allows for the prosecution of U.S. troops under Iraqi law only in the case of premeditated grave felonies committed when the personnel are off base and off duty, and only after American officials certify that threshold has been met.

A statement posted Saturday on the station's Web site said Imad was shot "in cold blood" and noted that the incident coincided with the implementation of the security agreement that Iraqi and U.S. officials have exalted as an affirmation of Iraq's sovereignty.

The U.S. military said troops followed "approved defensive measures" after the woman acted "erratically."

"Concerned by the danger she might present to the security forces and civilians, given her repeated failure to respond to warnings," the statement said, U.S. troops "fired two rounds, wounding the woman."

The statement said suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgents have targeted the area in recent weeks with car bombs. Suicide bombings also have occurred in the area, the statement said.

The statement did not describe the woman's behavior or explain why troops deemed it suspicious. The U.S. military did not identify the woman.

Also Saturday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began an official visit to Iran, his office said, and planned to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Maliki had hastily canceled a visit to Iran in late December for undisclosed reasons.

U.S. officials accuse Iran of fueling violence in Iraq and of meddling in Iraqi politics.

Special correspondent Zaid Sabah contributed to this report.

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