The Centre for Constitutional Rights said it would ask German prosecutors to open an investigation and, ultimately, a criminal prosecution that would look into the responsibility of high-ranking US officials for authorising war crimes in the so-called war on terror.

The group of lawyers hopes German prosecutors will take up the case under Germany's universal jurisdiction law, which allows them to pursue certain cases originating anywhere in the world, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The complaint will be brought on behalf of 12 people - 11 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantanamo detainee - and accuses the US of torture and indefinite detention.

Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and current attorney general, George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, and other high-ranking US officials will also be named in the complaint.

Rumsfeld resignation

The centre said in a statement: "The complaint is related to a 2004 complaint that was dismissed, but the new complaint is filed with substantial new evidence, new defendants and plaintiffs, a new German federal prosecutor and, most important, under new circumstances that include the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defence."

Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday after Democrats took control of the US Congress.

Voter anger over the Iraq war has been largely blamed for the huge Republican losses in the midterm elections.

Rumsfeld will be replaced by Robert Gates, a former CIA director and a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, assessing alternative strategies for Iraq.