Eric Prince is the founder and sole owner of Blackwater Worldwide, formerly Blackwater USA. He has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Christianist and Republican causes. Ordinarily, people who support those two things disapprove of Islam and Islamic law.
However, since Mr Prince’s company, Presidential Airways, is being sued by the widows of three American servicemen who died in a crash of that company’s aircraft in Afghanistan, he wants the case tried under Afghanistan’s legal system, based on Shariah (Islamic) law. Because it would let his company, which has been determined to be at fault in the accident, off the hook.
To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.
The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”
If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.
From another article:
When asked to justify having a case involving an American company working for the U.S. government decided by Afghan law, Prince said: “Where did the crash occur? Afghanistan.”
In a motion filed in April, Blackwater attorneys said “the policy interest of Afghanistan must be considered as it is undisputed that is the place where the injuries occurred. Further, the alleged negligent conduct, from the planning and scheduling of the accident mission to the alleged operation errors, took place in Afghanistan.”
Lawyers for the women say the case was properly filed in Florida because that is where the defendants did business at the time of the crash. Presidential Airways was based in Melbourne, Fla., at the time.
Presidential Airways earlier had argued the lawsuit should be dismissed under the legal doctrine that soldiers cannot sue the government. Presidential Airways was under contract with the U.S. military to fly cargo and personnel around Afghanistan.
But a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta refused to dismiss the lawsuit on that basis in October.
The National Transportation Safety Board has blamed the crash on Presidential Airways, saying it failed to ensure that its crews followed company policy and Pentagon and Federal Aviation Administration safety regulations and for its “failure to require its flight crews to file and fly a defined route.”
All bolding mine.
Update: I just found this CNN article from Oct of 2007 that included this:
A 2004 crash that killed everyone on board — three crew members and three U.S. troops — was caused by pilots from a Blackwater plane taking a low-level run through a mountain canyon in Afghanistan, testimony revealed Tuesday.
I swear to God, they wouldn’t pay me if they knew how much fun this was,” the doomed plane’s cockpit voice recorder captured the pilot saying shortly before the November 27, 2004, crash.
“You’re an X-wing fighter Star Wars man,” an NTSB report quoted the plane’s co-pilot, Loren Hammer, saying during the flight — a reference to the dizzying battle in the 1977 film.
“You’re [expletive] right. This is fun,” the pilot, Noel English, responded.
About eight minutes later, the plane slammed into the wall of the canyon, which was flanked by ridgelines that rose nearly a mile above surrounding terrain.
When an unidentified passenger asked about the plane’s route before the crash, flight mechanic Melvin Rowe told him, “I don’t know what we’re gonna see. We don’t normally go this route.”
English added, “All we want is to avoid seeing rock at 12 o’clock.”
Federal investigators found each should have been paired with a more experienced aviator, according to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California. Waxman is chairman of the oversight committee, which is investigating Blackwater’s performance on more than $1 billion in U.S. government contracts since 2001.
He said a company e-mail stated the company had overlooked experience requirements “in favor of getting the requisite number of personnel on board to start up the contract.”
“The corporation hired inexperienced pilots. They sent them on a route they didn’t know about,” Waxman said. “It seems to me that it’s more than pilot error. There ought to be corporate responsibility, and Blackwater was the corporation involved.”
Prince said investigators concluded the crash in Afghanistan was not due to corporate error, but pilot error. He rejected Waxman’s contention that the pilots “acted like cowboys.”