[JURIST] Eleven former Abu Ghraib detainees and one Guantanamo detainee all claiming to have been victims of US torture initiated a criminal complaint [introduction in English, PDF; full complaint text in German, part one and part two, PDF] in Germany Tuesday asking that the German Federal Prosecutor [official website] investigate and ultimately prosecute former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top US officials and advisors [CCR list] for authorizing the commission of war crimes in the US "war on terror." As anticipated [JURIST report], the complaint was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by a coalition of US and international rights groups – among them the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the German Republican Attorneys' Association (RAV) [advocacy websites] – invoking Germany's universal jurisdiction [AI backgrounder] law, which allows the prosecution of war crimes no matter where they were carried out.
US and German lawyers jointly allege that Rumsfeld personally ordered harsher torture methods against Mohamed al-Qahtani [Wikipedia profile], the so-called "20th hijacker" from the Sept. 11 attacks being held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], when he did not confess to terrorist activities under initial interrogation sessions. It additionally cites alleged orders to commit or failures to prevent torture by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile], former CIA director George Tenet [official profile], and recently retired [JURIST report] US Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez [Wikipedia profile], the former commander of all US forces in Iraq. CCR provides additional background materials.
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. That complaint was rejected [JURIST report] by a German prosecutor in February 2005 and a German court later upheld [JURIST report] the prosecutor's dismissal of the complaint. Attorneys representing the 12 detainees in the current suit believe they have a better chance this time because they have obtained records from the 2005 congressional hearings on al-Qahtani's case, and because Rumsfeld's recent resignation [JURIST report] may alleviate political pressure on German prosecutors to dismiss the challenge. AP has more. From Germany, Der Spiegel has local coverage.