[News] Iraqis awarded $5m over Abu Ghraib abuse
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 9 10:45:23 EST 2013
Iraqis awarded $5m over Abu Ghraib abuse
A US defence contractor whose subsidiary was accused of conspiring to
torture detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has paid
$5.28m to 71 former inmates held there between 2003 and 2007.
Tuesday's settlement marks the first successful effort by lawyers for
former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other US-run detention centres to
collect money from a US defence contractor in lawsuits alleging torture.
Another contractor, CACI, is expected to go to trial over similar
allegations this summer.
The payments were disclosed in a document that Engility Holdings Inc
filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission two months ago but
which has gone essentially unnoticed.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the ex-detainees, Baher Azmy, said that each of
the 71 Iraqis received a portion of the settlement.
Azmy declined to say how the money was distributed among them. He said
there was an agreement to keep details of the settlement confidential.
"Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported
role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib," said Azmy, the legal director
at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
"We are pleased that this settlement provides some accountability for
one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the
Eric Ruff, Engility's director of corporate communications, said the
company does not comment on matters involving litigation.
The ex-detainees filed the lawsuit in federal court in Greenbelt,
Maryland, in 2008.
L-3 Services "permitted scores of its employees to participate in
torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time
throughout Iraq", the lawsuit stated.
The company "willfully failed to report L-3 employees' repeated assaults
and other criminal conduct by its employees to the United States or Iraq
The defendant in the lawsuit, L-3 Services Inc, now an Engility
subsidiary, provided translators to the US military in Iraq.
In its defence four years ago against the lawsuit, L-3 Services said
lawyers for the Iraqis alleged that there were no facts to support the
Sixty-eight of the Iraqis "do not even attempt to allege the identity of
their alleged abuser" and two others provide only "vague assertions",
the company said then.
A military investigation in 2004 identified 44 alleged incidents of
detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib.
No employee from L-3 Services was charged with a crime in investigations
by the US Justice Department. Nor did the US military stop the company
from working for the government.
The Abu Ghraib prison scandal erupted during President George W Bush's
re-election campaign in 2004 when graphic photographs taken by soldiers
at the scene were leaked to the news media.
They showed naked inmates piled on top of each other in a prison cell
block, inmates handcuffed to their cell bars and hooded and wired for
electric shock, among other shocking scenes.
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