Lawyer in long fight for former Abu Ghraib detainees

May 9, 2013 at 1:39 PM
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TROY, Mich., May 9 (UPI) -- A Detroit-area lawyer has been fighting for almost a decade to win compensation for four men who spent time in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

CACI Premier Technology, a Virginia company that handled interrogations at Abu Ghraib, has asked a federal judge to dismiss Shereef Akeel's lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday. A hearing is scheduled Friday in Arlington, Va.

Akeel first became involved with Abu Ghraib in 2004 when a man named Saleh visited his law office in Troy, Mich., and described beatings and torture at a prison in Iraq. After seeing the man's story confirmed by a report on "60 Minutes," Akeel traveled to Iraq to interview detainees.

The lawsuit has faced a number of hurdles. Three of Akeel's clients have been barred from flying to the United States to give depositions. CACI has said they are on the "no-fly" list as known or suspected terrorists.

The U.S. Supreme Court in a recent ruling also limited the use of the 1798 Alien Tort Statute, which allows non-citizens to sue in U.S. courts.

Akeel's four clients say they were beaten and tortured, and one says he was sexually assaulted by a woman guard at the prison. Akeel still hopes his clients will get their day in court. Baher Azmy, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been working on the case with Akeel, says it is a legal landmark.

"This stands to be the only one that may actually go to trial and hold individuals from, in this case, a private corporation, responsible," Azmy said. "I think it's incredibly important that these plaintiffs have the opportunity to tell their story in an open courtroom in the United States."

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