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CACI faces retrial in longstanding Iraq detainee abuse lawsuit

CACI faces retrial in longstanding Iraq detainee abuse lawsuit
CACI faces retrial in longstanding Iraq detainee abuse lawsuit

2024-06-15 21:20:03 - Source: Shafaq News

Shafaq News/ On Friday, a federal judge ordered a retrial in a long-running case against Virginia-based military contractor CACI Premier Technology Inc. (CACI). The lawsuit alleges CACI's role in the abuse and torture of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison two decades ago.

According to JURIST Legal News report, "Judge Leonie Brinkema granted the plaintiffs' motion for a new trial and denied CACI's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The decision follows a civil trial earlier this year where an eight-person jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict, which is required in federal civil cases."

The report added, "The case against CACI exists against the backdrop of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the establishment of US-run prisons in Iraq where the US hired corporations like CACI to provide interrogation services at key detention sites such as Abu Ghraib."

It is worth noting that the lawsuit was filed in 2008 under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign citizens to file lawsuits in US federal courts for serious violations of international law. The plaintiffs, Suhail Al Shimari, Asa'ad Zuba'e, and Salah Al-Ejaili, were detained in the "hard site" section of Abu Ghraib, where severe interrogation techniques were reportedly used. The plaintiffs allege that CACI is liable for conspiracy to commit torture and war crimes.

"CACI contended that the plaintiffs had their day in court and that the evidence did not support a verdict against CACI. The contractor argued that its defense was hindered by the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege, which prevented certain classified evidence from being presented. Additionally, CACI stated that it should not be liable for its employees' actions if they were under the army's control pursuant to the "borrowed servants" doctrine. The contractor claimed it should not be held liable for conduct performed in Iraq under US contract, even if that conduct was found to be unlawful." The American JURIST news added.

CACI has mounted a persistent defense, filing over 20 motions to dismiss the lawsuit since its inception. This included five appeals to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and an unsuccessful attempt to have the Supreme Court review the case. Notably, the Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of the Alien Tort Statute since the case was filed. However, Judge Brinkema ruled in 2018 that the plaintiffs' claims met the revised standard, allowing the case to go to trial. This decision was further bolstered by the Supreme Court's recent Nestlé ruling, which clarified that corporations can be sued under the Alien Tort Statute if their actions within the US directly connect to the alleged overseas violations.

Adding that, the case against CACI is one of many legal actions against private military contractors accused of detainee abuse, including those against Titan Corporation (later known as L-3 Services) and CACI for their roles in alleged abuse at Abu Ghraib, as well as against Blackwater for incidents like the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad. Many of these cases faced similar legal challenges, specifically dismissals based on national security concerns and the complexities of applying US law to actions taken in war zones.

The report concluded, "Despite these challenges, the CACI case has survived multiple attempts at dismissal. The plaintiffs argued that a retrial was justified unless CACI could conclusively prove that no reasonable jury would find it liable."

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