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November 6, 2007, New York, NY – In a key victory in the war against torture, today a federal court ruled that the lawsuit against a private military contractor in Iraq should be heard by a jury of Americans. The action was filed in 2004 against CACI and Titan, both of which were named in the military investigation of the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Center for Constitutional rights, Burke O'Neil LLC, and Akeel Valentine, PLC brought the suit as a class action on behalf of the hundreds of Iraqi torture victims. The same firms filed an action on October 11 against Blackwater USA for the killing of innocent bystanders at Noori Square in September.
The court today ruled that the case could go forward against CACI, whose employees worked as interrogators in the prison. The court found that that there was a dual chain of command where corporate employees were obliged to report abuse up the chain of command at CACI. The court dismissed the claims against Titan, whose employees worked as translators, reasoning that the military exercised exclusive control over the translators.
Susan L. Burke, of Burke O'Neil LLC, stated, “We are delighted that a jury of Americans will soon be deciding whether an American corporation is free to torture prisoners.”
Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “This will send a message to all contractors that they cannot act with impunity outside the law and begins to answer the question of how CACI will be held accountable for the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.”
Shereef Akeel of Akeel & Valentine, PLC said, “This is a real victory for the men we represent. Now they have the chance to seek justice before the American people.”
The denial of summary judgment in the case means there will be a jury trial of a private military contractor for torture. A status conference is scheduled for December 6, and a trial date will be set then. Attorneys for plaintiffs are asking for it to be held as promptly as possible.