US views sought in Iraqi contractor torture case

Mon Oct 4, 2010 10:39am EDT

Related Topics

* Lawsuit filed in 2004 over Abu Ghraib jail mistreatment

* At issue is whether military contractors have immunity

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday asked the U.S. government for its views about a lawsuit claiming that employees of two defense contractors took part in the torture and abuse of Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

A group of Iraqis appealed to the high court seeking to reinstate their lawsuit against CACI International Inc (CACI.N), which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc's (LLL.N) Titan unit, which provided interpreters to the U.S. military.

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of the Iraqis who say they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the U.S. military at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. They said contractor employees participated in the abuse, a claim denied by the companies.

A federal appeals court dismissed the lawsuit because the companies had immunity as government contractors. It also said the suit was pre-empted by U.S. national security and foreign policy law.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, attorneys for the Iraqis argued that victims of torture may proceed with lawsuits against private parties, and that corporations can be held liable for torture under international law.

But attorneys for CACI and L-3 opposed the appeal, said the appeals court's rejection of the claims was correct, and argued that further review of the case by the Supreme Court was unwarranted.

On the first day of its new term, the Supreme Court issued a brief order asking the Justice Department to file a brief in the case expressing the views of the U.S. government.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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