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Military contractor pays $5 million settlement in lawsuits alleging torture at Abu Ghraib

A military contractor that was accused in a lawsuit by former detainees of the Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] prison of conspiring to torture detainees has paid $5.28 million to detainees held at the prison and other US detention centers in Iraq. The detainees filed suit against two military defense contractors in federal court in 2008 for alleged torture occurring over a period of four years. The cases against CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. [corporate websites] were dismissed [JURIST report] in September 2011 on the grounds that the companies have immunity as government contractors. A 14-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled 12-2 [opinion, PDF] in May that the dismissal was premature [JURIST report]. L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. settled the dispute and each of the former detainees who were parties to the lawsuit received a portion of the settlement [AP report]. The case against CACI is likely to go to trial this summer.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit dismissed the claims [JURIST report] against CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. [opinions, PDF] in September 2011, holding that federal law protecting civilian contractors acting under the control of the US military in a combat situation preempted the plaintiffs' tort claims based in state law. US military personnel have also been accused of torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Army Spc. Charles Graner [JURIST news archive], the convicted ringleader of abuses committed at the prison, was released [JURIST report] last August for good behavior after serving more than six-and-a-half years of his 10-year sentence. Graner was convicted [JURIST report] in 2005 of conspiracy, assault, maltreating prisoners, dereliction of duty and committing indecent acts and received the longest sentence of the six others involved in the abuses. In June, the DOJ initiated a grand jury investigation [JURIST report] into the torture and death of a detainee at Abu Ghraib. Manadel Al-Jamadi was captured [JURIST report] by US Navy SEALs in 2003 and held in Abu Ghraib as a "ghost detainee," or unregistered prisoner, for his suspected involvement in the bombing of a Red Cross center in Baghdad that killed 12 people. The US military has never revealed the exact circumstances of his death, which was ruled a homicide [JURIST report]. Reports show he died while suspended by his wrists, which were handcuffed behind his back.

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