Four former inmates of Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison will now be able to sue over alleged torture by United States military contractors.
A US federal appeals court reinstated the lawsuit on Friday against CACI Premier Technology, which is accused of abusing the men during interrogations at the prison in the early 2000s. The ruling comes after eight years of appeals.
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The case had been dismissed by a judge, who ruled legal action would improperly require second-guessing of military leaders in a war zone, making it a “political question” that is off-limits for the judiciary.
But the appeals court ruled unanimously that any unlawful acts committed by private contractors could be subject to judicial scrutiny, even if they were doing so under the direct control of the military.
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which is representing the four Iraqi inmates, praised the appellate court’s decision.
“Today’s decision reaffirms the role of the courts to assess illegality, including torture, and we are optimistic this case will finally move forward, and our clients will have their day in court,” the centre’s legal director, Baher Azmy, said in a statement.
One of the plaintiffs, Salah Hassan, said in a statement: “Today, part of justice was achieved and this is something wonderful, not only for me and the other plaintiffs, but for all the just causes in the world … No doubt the result will be a white light in the process of justice in the world at the time.”
|Former Abu Ghraib inmate tells his story|
According to the lawsuit, Hassan, who now lives in Qatar, was arrested in November 2003 and sent to Abu Ghraib. He was released in February 2004 without being charged with a crime.
The lawsuit alleges he was beaten, stripped naked, threatened with dogs, and suffered other abuses.
The lawsuit has faced numerous hurdles since it was filed in 2008. In addition to the legal battles, the plaintiffs have struggled to get their clients into the United States for depositions because the US government has denied them visas.
CACI, meanwhile, has long denied any wrongdoing.
“We’ll proceed with our expectation unchanged: exoneration for CACI. Nothing in today’s decision changes our view of the ultimate outcome,” the company said in a statement on Friday.