Iraqi group files 200 lawsuits against Rumsfeld, US security firms for torture
AMMAN, Dec 15, 2008 (AFP) - A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group said on Monday it has filed 200 lawsuits against US former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and American security firms for their alleged role in torturing Iraqis.
Ali Qeisi, head of the group the "Society of Victims of the US Occupation in Iraq," said the cases, relating to torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, have been recently filed in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Maryland.
"Around 30 lawsuits have been accepted so far," Qeisi told AFP. The others are still under consideration.
"The torture was systemic, and those responsible for it should be punished and the victims should be compensated," he said.
Qeisi said he himself was tortured by US troops in Iraq during a six-month detention, though he refused to elaborate.
Last year, French, US and German rights groups filed suits for torture against Rumsfeld, who was accused by a US bipartisan Senate report last Thursday of being to blame for abuse of detainees in US custody.
"Rumsfeld's authorisation of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there" and "influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques... in Afghanistan and Iraq," the report concluded.
In a high-profile case involving private security guards, five Blackwater guards were last week charged with killing 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians and wounding 18 others with gunfire and grenades in September 2007.
A sixth guard has pleaded guilty to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempt to commit manslaughter.