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Rumsfeld sued for wrongful death of Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [official profile], as well as more than 100 military officers and personnel, have been sued for the wrongful deaths [complaint, PDF] of two former detainees who committed suicide while at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Family members of the deceased filed the complaint last Wednesday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website]. The parents of Yesser al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami seek unspecified damages on behalf of their sons for prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, and cruel treatment suffered at Guantanamo, as well as compensation for the emotional suffering experienced as a result of the defendants’ arbitrary detention of the young men. According to the complaint, "Rumsfeld and other defendants in the chain of command intended, knew or should have known of the forms and methods of physical and psychological torture and abuse inflicted on Messrs. al-Salami and al-Zahrani." The plaintiffs are represented by Meetali Jain from the International Human Rights Law Clinic at American University [clinic website] along with Pardiss Kebraei and Shayana Kadidal from the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website]. The family of a third inmate, Mani al-Utaybi, who committed suicide the same day as al-Zahrani and al-Salami, has not joined the suit.

Military officials from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) have stated that the three detainees, who hung themselves using nooses made from sheets and clothes, committed suicide in pursuit of martyrdom [JURIST report]. All three had participated in hunger strikes and were among those who had been force-fed [JURIST report]. Advisers to US President-elect Barack Obama said Monday that he plans to issue an executive order [JURIST report] during his first week in office closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

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