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Federal jury reaches partial verdict in CIA contractor detainee abuse case

[JURIST] A federal jury in Raleigh, North Carolina reached a partial verdict Wednesday in the trial [JURIST report] of David Passaro [Raleigh News and Observer materials], a CIA contractor accused of abusing a detainee in Afghanistan [indictment; JURIST report], but US District Judge Terrence Boyle [official profile] sealed the decision and ordered the jury to continue deliberations on other charges Thursday. The jury had sent a note to Boyle telling him that they could not come to a consensus on the remaining charges. US prosecutor Jim Candelmo told the jury during closing arguments that Passaro beat Abdul Wali [Wikipedia profile] with a flashlight. Defense attorney Joe Gilbert, however, told the jury that Passaro merely tapped Wali with the flashlight and that the charges against Passaro would not have arisen if Wali had not died later on. Though Passaro has not been charged in Wali's death, he does face two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in a serious injury, and could face up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Passaro was charged in 2004, and has maintained that the government is using him as a scapegoat in the wake of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal [JURIST news archive]. Passaro is the first and only civilian to be charged in connection with detainee abuse in Iraq or Afghanistan. Last year, Boyle allowed prosecutors to bring a case against Passaro under the USA Patriot Act [JURIST news archive], saying that the US can charge nationals with crimes committed at facilities used by the US government. In February, Boyle ruled that Passaro can present evidence to show that he followed government orders [JURIST report] when he allegedly abused the detainee. AP has more.

4:03 PM ET - The jury Thursday convicted [JURIST report] Passaro on three misdemeanor counts of simple assault and one felony count of assault resulting in bodily injury. Passaro faces a maximum of 11.5 years in prison.

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