Judge orders retrial of civil case towards contractor accused of abuse at Abu Ghraib

A decide on Friday ordered a retrial over allegations {that a} Virginia-based navy contractor contributed to the abuse and torture of detainees at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib jail 20 years in the past.

FILE – In this June 22, 2004, photograph, a detainee in an out of doors solitary confinement cell talks with a navy police officer on the Abu Ghraib jail on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq. A trial scheduled to start Monday, April 15, 2024, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., would be the first time that survivors of Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail will convey their claims of torture to a U.S. jury. Twenty years in the past, pictures of abused prisoners and smiling U.S. troopers guarding them shocked the world. (AP Photo/John Moore, File)(AP/John Moore)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A decide on Friday ordered a retrial over allegations {that a} Virginia-based navy contractor contributed to the abuse and torture of detainees at Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib jail 20 years in the past.

A civil trial earlier this 12 months ended with a hung jury and mistrial, with the eight-person panel break up on whether or not contractor CACI bore accountability for abuse of the three Abu Ghraib survivors who filed go well with. Two jurors advised The Associated Press after the mistrial {that a} majority of the jury needed to carry CACI liable. A unanimous jury verdict is required in federal civil instances.

CACI equipped civilian interrogators to the jail in 2003 and 2004 to complement a scarcity of navy interrogators. The lawsuit alleged that these interrogators conspired with troopers there to abuse detainees as a way of “softening them up” for questioning.

At a listening to Friday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema stated she’d “gone backwards and forwards” over whether or not a brand new trial is merited, however in the end determined the plaintiffs had been inside their rights to retry the case.

After she declared the mistrial final month, Brinkema had questioned from the bench whether or not a brand new trial can be a good suggestion.

It took an enormous effort and 16 years of authorized wrangling to convey case to trial within the first place. The trial was the primary time a U.S. jury heard claims introduced by Abu Ghraib survivors within the 20 years since pictures of detainee mistreatment — accompanied by smiling U.S. troopers inflicting the abuse — shocked the world throughout the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The trial itself lasted solely every week however the jury deliberated for eight days .

In court docket papers opposing a retrial, CACI argued that “Plaintiffs obtained their day in court docket, a day in court docket that shined a light-weight on the Abu Ghraib scandal as brightly because the state secrets and techniques privilege will permit. The proof offered at trial demonstrates past doubt {that a} jury … couldn’t fairly return any verdict aside from a verdict in CACI’s favor.”

CACI stated it was hampered in defending itself as a result of the federal government asserted that enormous swaths of proof had been categorized and couldn’t be offered in a public trial. The decide on Friday stated the federal government’s use of the state secrets and techniques privilege induced difficulties for the plaintiffs as nicely.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs, who had been represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, had argued that they had been entitled to a retrial by proper, and that the decide may solely preclude it if CACI may present that no affordable jury would maintain it liable.

During the trial, the jury requested questions that demonstrated they had been divided and not sure methods to apply a authorized precept known as the “borrowed servants” doctrine. CACI, as considered one of its defenses, argued it shouldn’t be responsible for any misdeeds by its workers in the event that they had been underneath the management and path of the Army.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys tried to bar CACI from making that argument at trial, however Brinkema allowed the jury to think about it.

Both sides argued in regards to the scope of the doctrine. Fundamentally, although, if CACI may show its interrogators had been underneath the command and management of the Army on the time any misconduct occurred, then the jury was instructed to seek out in favor of CACI.

While it took 16 years to convey the primary case to trial, it mustn’t take almost as lengthy to conduct a retrial. Brinkema stated she desires the retrial to be held this 12 months, and each side indicated that they had been initially amenable to an October trial date.

Many of the witnesses on the trial testified by recorded deposition, together with a number of of the troopers who guarded the jail and had been convicted in courts-martial of abusing detainees. As a outcome, it’s doubtless that their testimony may simply be replayed to a brand new jury.

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