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Washington, November 1, 2012 – This morning CCR scored a major victory in our long running effort to hold private military contractors responsible for their role in the torture and war crimes at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. A U.S. district court in Virginia reinstated all of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) claims in our lawsuit against US-based corporate military contractor CACI International Inc. The case will now proceed to discovery, with trial expected next spring or summer. This will be the first trial accounting for the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib
In 2009, the court denied the case’s ATS claims of war crimes, torture, and cruel and inhuman treatment, saying that they did not satisfy the requirements for jurisdiction under the Supreme Court ruling in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain. Attorneys for the Iraqi victims had asked the court to reconsider, arguing that these kinds of heinous crimes are the most recognized of all crimes in international law and that there is an emerging consensus on corporate liability in the law. Attorneys said today’s decision puts the case on the path towards discovery and likely trial in the spring or summer of 2013.
Today the court agreed with us and is now allowing the case to move forward with the full set of charges naming the crimes for what they were: war crimes, torture and cruel and inhuman treatment. All of the plaintiffs are innocent Iraqis who were senselessly tortured by U.S. companies that profited from their misery, and were ultimately released without ever being charged with a crime. Now they will have their day in court.
The plaintiffs include Suhail Najim Abdullah al Shimari, a farmer who was held for more than four years, including at the Abu Ghraib “hard site.” He and the other three plaintiffs were subjected, at the hands of CACI operatives and certain government co-conspirators, to electric shocks; repeated brutal beatings; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; forced nudity; stress positions; sexual assault; mock executions; humiliation; hooding; isolated detention; and prolonged hanging from the limbs. CACI was linked to these torture practices in military court martial proceedings which resulted in convictions for U.S. military personnel but no civil or criminal penalties for the contractors implicated.
Private military contractors like CACI should not be allowed to act with impunity. Today’s decision gets us one step closer to ensuring Abu Ghraib will not be repeated. Stay tuned for further case developments.