Human rights group to sue over Iraq abuse claims

A racketeering lawsuit filed by human rights lawyers accuses US civilian contractors at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq of conspiring to execute, rape and torture prisoners to boost corporate profits from military payments.

Some of the new abuse allegations were among the cruellest described so far.

One person, identified in court documents as an inmate named Rasheed, told lawyers his tongue was shocked with electricity and his toenails pulled out. Another prisoner, identified as Ahmed, said he was made watch while his 63-year-old father, Ibrahiem, was tortured to death.

A plaintiff identified as a prisoner named Neisef said he was raped by a female interrogator who said, “It is our job to take your manhood away”.

Shereef Akeel, a Detroit lawyer, said the people he represents were “subjected to unspeakable crimes”.

The lawsuit seeks “substantial” payments for the alleged victims and a ban on government contracts for Titan Corp. of San Diego and CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Virginia, whose employees were interrogators and translators.

The suit alleges violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act.

Part of the allegation is Titan and CACI would benefit if interrogations were successful, resulting in more contracts.

Titan spokesman Wil Williams called the lawsuit “frivolous”. “Titan never had control over prisoners or how they were treated,” Williams said.

CACI said the company “summarily rejects and denies the ill-informed, slanderous and malicious allegations of the lawsuit”.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Adel L Nakhla, a former Titan employee, and two CACI employees, Steven A Stefanowicz and John B Israel. All three were implicated in abuses in Iraqi prisons in the army’s investigative report by Major General Antonio Taguba.

Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, cited international rules against torture and abuse. He said: “Unfortunately, in this case, our administration and a number of contractors are outside the law.”

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