After a US federal judge ruled that CACI International, a US corporation, was not culpable for torture allegations at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, lawyers for the defense contractor have filed a suit against the former detainees seeking legal expenses.
A group of 256 Iraqis originally sued CACI International in 2004
accusing the company of committing war crimes, crimes against
humanity, sexual assault, participating in torture and a variety
of other allegations at Abu Ghraib prison.
Publicity around the torture, fueled by graphic pictures of
soldiers and contractors humiliating Iraqi detainees, led to
calls for US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation and
is widely considered one of the most disgraceful events of the US
war in Iraq.
A federal judge dismissed the prisoners’ case in June 2013,
ruling that because the alleged abuse took place overseas the US
District Court in Alexandria, Virginia had no jurisdiction.
Engility, another contractor sued in connection with the human
rights violations, settled with former Abu Ghraib detainees for
$5.28 million earlier this year.
CACI has now filed suit against prisoners who accused the company
of wrongdoing in 2004, asking the accusers to pay a $15,580 bill
for legal expenses.
The plaintiffs oppose the measure, saying they “have very
limited financial means, even by non-US standards, and
dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in this
case,” a recent court filing said. “At the same time,
plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close,
difficult – and only recently arguable – grounds.”
“Given the wealth disparities between this multi-billion
dollar entity and four torture victims, given what they went
through, it’s surprising and appears to be an attempt to
intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their
rights to sue in US courts,” Bazer Azny, the legal director
for the Center for Constitutional Rights, told Common
The plaintiffs are appealing the decision, arguing that by
operating within a US military facility corporation employees
were still subject to US law. As a government contractor, CACI is
immune under Iraqi law.
This ruling could prove to be an important precedent for
contractors accused of similarly heinous war crimes in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law
professor, told the Washington Post that the dismissal is a
“blind spot” in US law.
“We talk a good game about our government being subject to the
rule of law, but we have created this expanding exception where
the government and its contractors can shield the worst possible
abuses,” Turley said. “The government and its contractors
are virtually without a check or balance in our system.”
Republished from: RT