For Immediate Release
Erin Powers, Powers MediaWorks LLC, for Burke O'Neil LLC, (281) 703-6000;
and Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, (212) 614-6449.
Court Rules Abu Ghraib Torture Victims Can Sue Contractor CACI, According to Legal Team for Former Detainees
WASHINGTON - A Virginia federal court ruled Wednesday that four
former Abu Ghraib detainees who were tortured and later released without charge
can sue U.S. military contractor CACI International Inc. (NYSE: CAI), according
to their U.S. legal team.
District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, of Alexandria, Va., denied CACI's motion to dismiss the
detainees' claims which allege multiple violations of U.S.
law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy.
CACI sought immunity
against the lawsuits and claimed that the actions of its contract interrogators
at Abu Ghraib were beyond judicial review. Court martial and other testimony
from the soldiers convicted of abuse link the company personnel to the abuse.
In a ruling important to
accountability for government contractors in Iraq, the Court ruled Tuesday that
"[t]he fact that CACI's business involves conducting interrogations on
the government's behalf is incidental; courts can and do entertain civil suits
against government contractors for the manner in which they carry out
government business. CACI conveniently ignores the long line of cases where
private plaintiffs were allowed to bring tort actions for wartime injuries."
The Court also rejected
CACI's effort to shield itself from accountability by invoking the
political question doctrine. The Court found "the policy is clear: what
happened at Abu Ghraib was wrong." The Court reasoned "While it is
true that the events at Abu Ghraib pose an embarrassment to this country, it is
the misconduct alleged and not the litigation surrounding that misconduct that
creates the embarrassment. This Court finds that the only potential for
embarrassment would be if the Court declined to hear these claims on political
questions grounds. Consequently, the Court holds that Plaintiffs' claims
pose no political question and are therefore justiciable."
The plaintiffs are Suhail
Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid, Sa'ad Hamza Hantoosh AI-Zuba'e
and Salah Hasan Usaif Jasim Al-Ejaili - all of whom are Iraqi citizens
who were released from Abu Ghraib between 2004 and 2008 without being charged
with any crime.
former detainees are represented by attorneys Susan L. Burke, William T.
O'Neil and William F. Gould of Burke
O'Neil LLC, of Washington, D.C.; Katherine
Gallagher of the Center
for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC,
of Troy, Mich.
lawsuit alleges that the CACI defendants not only participated in physical and
mental abuse of the detainees, but also destroyed documents, videos and
photographs; prevented the reporting of the torture and abuse to the
International Committee of the Red Cross; hid detainees and other prisoners
from the International Committee of the Red Cross; and misled non-conspiring
military and government officials about the state of affairs at the Iraq
Burke, of Burke O'Neil LLC, stated, "The court's ruling is
another step toward ensuring that this litigation will contribute to the true
history of Abu Ghraib. These innocent men were senselessly tortured by a U.S.
company that profited from their misery. Their stories remain untold largely
because CACI never interviewed them - or any victims - before
reaching and promoting hollow conclusions about what happened at Abu Ghraib.
These men came to U.S.
courts because our laws, as they have for generations, allow their claims to be
Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher
stated, "Private military contractors like CACI cannot act with impunity.
They must act within the bounds of law and must be held accountable for their participation
in the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and the other facilities in Iraq. We believe their actions and
the acts of torture of their employees clearly violated the Geneva Conventions,
the Army Field Manual, and the laws of the United States."
Shereef Akeel, of Akeel
& Valentine, stated, "This is a positive development for the torture
victims to hold CACI accountable for the atrocities committed in the Abu Ghraib
The case is "Suhail
Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, et al., v. CACI Premier Technology, Inc. and CACI
International, Inc.," in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Virginia, Alexandria Division (Case No. 1:08cv827 GBL).
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