Abu Ghraib suit against contractor CACI is reinstated

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against Arlington-based defense contractor CACI International that accuses the company’s employees of conspiring with the U.S. military to torture detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Monday found that a lower court had erred in dismissing the lawsuit in June 2013 when it decided it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because the alleged abuse occurred overseas.

The civil suit was filed in 2008 and accused CACI employees, who allegedly conducted interrogation at the Iraqi prison, of conspiring with military personnel to abuse and torture four detainees in 2003 and 2004. The plaintiffs are four foreign nationals. Their allegations include claims of being beaten, shot in the leg, tasered, stripped and kept in a cage.

When the lower court threw out the suit in 2013, it did not consider the factual merits of the case, ruling only that the court was not the proper venue to hear the claims. Now, the case will go back to the U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

“Today’s court ruling affirms that U.S. corporations are not entitled to impunity for torture and war crimes, and that holding U.S. entities accountable for human rights violations strengthens this country’s relationship to the international community and basic human rights principles,” the plaintiffs’ attorney Baher Azmy said in a statement.

According to the ruling, CACI has argued that the treatment and interrogation of detainees during war is a key component of national defense considerations and that many of the interrogation tactics were approved by the secretary of defense.

Bill Koegel, general counsel of CACI, declined to comment on Monday’s ruling.

Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community. For more Washington business news, go to www.capbiz.biz.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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