Former detainees who say they were abused at Abu Ghraib want case reopened

Attorneys representing four Iraqis who claimed they were abused at the Abu Ghraib prison argued in a federal appeals court Tuesday that the case, which was dismissed last year, be reopened.

The former detainees have claimed that employees of CACI International, a government contractor working at the prison, mistreated them with “electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones and deprivation of oxygen, food and water.”

The case was dismissed last year by the U.S. District Court in Alexandriaafter a judge ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because the alleged abuse happened overseas. He did not explicitly rule on CACI’s role in the accusations.

In a statement Tuesday, Baher Azmy, an attorney for the former detainees and the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the court had erred in dismissing the case because the United States “exercised jurisdiction and control over both Iraq and Abu Ghraib prison.”

Oral arguments were heard Tuesday morning in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond.

“U.S. courts must at last provide a remedy for the victims of torture at Abu Ghraib,” Azmy said. “CACI indisputably played a key role in those atrocities, and it is time for them to be held accountable.”

He said the earlier ruling “creates lawless spaces where corporations can commit torture and war crimes and then find safe haven in the United States. That’s a ruling that should not stand.”

A spokesman for CACI declined to comment. In court filings, the Arlington-based company has said there was no evidence that the detainees “had any contact with an employee” of CACI or that CACI employees “had any interaction with whatever unnamed persons allegedly mistreated plaintiffs.”

In 2008, J. Phillip “Jack” London, CACI’s executive chairman, wrote a book, “Our Good Name: A Company’s Fight to Defend Its Honor and Get the Truth Told About Abu Ghraib,” in which he forcefully defended the company against what he said were false and sensational accusations.

Christian Davenport covers federal contracting for The Post's Financial desk. He joined The Post in 2000 and has served as an editor on the Metro desk and as a reporter covering military affairs. He is the author of "As You Were: To War and Back with the Black Hawk Battalion of the Virginia National Guard."
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