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Rights groups set to file Rumsfeld war crimes lawsuit in Germany

[JURIST] The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] announced [press release] Thursday that a coalition of US and international human rights groups plan to file a war crimes lawsuit against outgoing US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] after his resignation Wednesday. Rumsfeld enjoys statutory immunity in the United States and so CCR, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Federation of Human Rights [advocacy websites] and others will file the complaint in Germany under that country's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] law. CCR hailed Rumsfeld's resignation [JURIST report] as "a first step toward accountability," saying that "under Donald Rumsfeld's direction - often under his direct orders - the Department of Defense adopted the practices of torture and indefinite detention that CCR is currently challenging in many court cases." The advocacy group, which represents many detainees at Guantanamo, called on Rumsfeld's successor to close down Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and "put an end to the unlawful torture and detention of thousands in the so-called war on terror."

CCR and four Iraqi citizens initially filed [JURIST report] a war crimes complaint [English translation, PDF] in Germany against Rumsfeld and seven other high-ranking US officials in October 2004, seeking to hold them accountable for acts of torture allegedly carried out at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The complaint was rejected [JURIST report] by a German prosecutor in February 2005, but in the interim Rumsfeld cancelled a planned trip [JURIST report] to Germany to attend a security conference. A German court later upheld [JURIST report] the prosecutor's dismissal of the complaint.

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