$5.8 million settlement granted Iraqis tortured in Abu Ghraib

Iraqi prisoners who allege they were tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are being paid $5.8m by the subsidiary of a US defence contractor accused of complicity in their mistreatment.

The money will be paid to 71 former detainees of Abu Ghraib and other US-controlled detention centres in Iraq, and is the first time that prisoners have received money from a US defence contractor active in Iraq.

The claims were made against L-3 Services, which provided linguists and interrogators to the US military in Iraq, many of whom were used at Abu Ghraib. L-3 Services is a subsidiary of Virginia-based Engility Holdings, which was spun off from L-3 Communications, a major government contractor and Fortune 500 company which employs more than 50,000 people and had a turnover of more than $15 billion in 2011…

The payments, which were made two months ago, were revealed in a document Engility filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that went unnoticed until published by the Associated Press…

The lawsuit, which was originally filed in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 2008, alleged that L-3 Services “permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq”. It stated that the company “wilfully failed to report L-3 employees repeated assaults and other criminal conduct by its employees to the United States or Iraq authorities…”

…Engility was quoted saying it did not comment on legal matters and Baher Azmy, a lawyer for the former prisoners, said there was an agreement to keep the details of the settlement secret. Another contractor, CACI, is expected to go on trial for similar allegations later this summer.

Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib,” said Mr Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We are pleased this settlement provides some accountability for one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the victims.”

Private contractors were widely used by the US and other countries in Iraq instead of regular military personnel. They were deeply unpopular with Iraqis and the Iraqi government was eager not to grant them any form of legal immunity when the US was trying to negotiate keeping a force of US troops in Iraq past the final pullout date in 2011.

US courts are still dealing with the question of whether contractors in a war have immunity against being sued.

Mail me a penny postcard when our papier nache politicians own up to the criminal behavior perpetrated in the name of the American people in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Geneva Accords mean nothing to Pentagon practice since Dick Cheney and George W signed off on everything from torture to private contractors.

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