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Page last updated at 17:18 GMT, Sunday, 7 June 2009 18:18 UK

Five US contractors held over Iraq killing

A contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a bomb attack in central Baghdad (2005)
Western security contractors are a common sight in Iraq's Green Zone

Iraqi police have arrested five US men in connection with the killing of a fellow American last month.

An Iraqi spokesman called them security contractors, but the US embassy in Iraq has not confirmed who they are and says no charges have yet been laid.

If charged, they would be the first Americans to face Iraqi justice under a new joint security pact.

The arrests come at a time when Iraqi forces are assuming greater control of their own security.

Jim Kitterman, 60, was found bound, blindfolded and stabbed to death on 22 May in Baghdad's highly-fortified Green Zone, where he ran a small construction company.

A US embassy spokesman said the five detained Americans appeared to be well and that no formal charges had been laid against them yet.

The new security agreement lays out the terms of the US withdrawal and sets guidelines for the conduct of US troops while they remain in Iraq.

It allows US soldiers to be tried in Iraqi courts, but only in cases of serious, premeditated crimes committed while off-base and off-duty.

However, private contractors, who were previously immune to prosecution in Iraq, are now wholly bound by Iraqi law.



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