* Former Abu Ghraib prisoners cannot sue over alleged abuse
* U.S. Supreme Court decision in Kiobel cited
* Plaintiffs plan appeal
By Jonathan Stempel
June 26 CACI International Inc has won
the dismissal of a lawsuit accusing it of conspiring to torture
detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, as the defense
contractor benefited from a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision
over alleged human rights abuses on foreign soil.
In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge
Gerald Bruce Lee in Alexandria, Virginia said he lacked
jurisdiction to hear claims brought by the four Iraqi plaintiffs
under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), and separate claims by one
plaintiff that he said were barred under Iraqi law.
Lee ruled eight months after Engility Holdings Inc,
a spinoff of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc, paid $5.28
million to settle similar claims against an L-3 unit by roughly
six dozen people who were once held in Abu Ghraib and other
Photos depicting abuse of Abu Ghraib detainees emerged in
2004. While no contractors were charged, some detainees accused
their workers in lawsuits of physical and sexual abuse,
inflicting electric shocks, and conducting mock executions.
In the case against CACI, however, Lee said the Alien Tort
Statute claims could not proceed, because the relevant activity
took place in Iraq and was not covered under the Supreme Court's
April 17 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.
There, Chief Justice John Roberts said the law was presumed
to cover international law violations occurring in the United
States, and that violations elsewhere must "touch and concern"
U.S. territory "with sufficient force" before people could sue.
Lee said the CACI plaintiffs' claims fell short.
"Plaintiffs alleged that torture and war crimes occurred
during their detention in Abu Ghraib," he wrote. "Plaintiffs'
ATS claims do not allege that any violations occurred in the
United States or any of its territories. Therefore, on these
facts, the court holds that Kiobel's bar against
extraterritorial application of the ATS governs."
Baher Azmy, legal director of Center for Constitutional
Rights, who represents the CACI plaintiffs, plans to appeal.
"We argued there were no post-Kiobel decisions with stronger
connections to the United States than ours," he said in a phone
interview. "You had a U.S.-based company that contracted with
the U.S. government to provide interrogation services to
U.S.-occupied Iraq and conspired with U.S. soldiers to torture
and abuse detainees.
"We're disappointed in the ruling and level of impunity it
provides for human rights abuses undertaken by U.S. entities,"
CACI said in a statement: "We are gratified by the court's
decision and hope this is the end of these baseless lawsuits."
A federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia had in May
2012 allowed the lawsuits against CACI and L-3 to proceed.
CACI is based in Arlington, Virginia.
The case is Al Shimari et al v. CACI International Inc et
al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, No.