Lawsuit targets Abu Ghraib contractors
Plaintiffs allege killing, torture by civilians at Iraqi prison
From Kathy Benz
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lawyers representing allegedly abused Iraqi prisoners filed suit in U.S. federal court Tuesday alleging killing, torture and other abuses against the prisoners or their family members in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The lawsuit, filed by Iraqi Torture Victims Group (ITVG) on behalf of five Iraqis, names two U.S. companies, CACI International and the Titan Corporation, which were contracted by the U.S. government to provide interrogation services to coalition forces in Iraq.
"One of our clients described how it was that interrogators put a gun to his head and basically pulled the trigger a couple of times and then threatened to cut off his head if, in fact, he didn't tell them what it is they wanted him to say," said attorney Rod Edmond, a member of ITVG.
In addition, he said, "we have one of our clients who clearly describes an incident where he was abused, he had his hood off, and Gen. (Janis) Karpinski, who said she was not aware at all of any of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, but he says she was actually there and smiling."
Karpinski has not responded to repeated inquires from CNN.
CACI International issued a statement blasting the lawsuit, saying it "rejects and denies the allegations of the suit as being a malicious and farcical recitation of false statements and intentional distortions."
Tuesday's lawsuit was the latest development in the Abu Ghraib case, which surfaced in early May when photos were made public showing U.S. soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqis at the prison.
Seven American soldiers have been accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. One has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison and given a bad conduct discharge. The remaining six await possible legal action.
Six weeks ago, attorney Michael Hourigan went to Iraq and interviewed torture victims and their relatives, ITVG said. Torture victims give graphic details of the horrors of abuses and deaths in Abu Ghraib prison, the organization said.
The lawsuit alleges that CACI International and Titan Corporation employees directed and participated in abuse and torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Edmond contends the allegations are supported by the report on the prison prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonia Taguba.
Edmond said the suit seeks "no specific dollar value."
"But these are serious allegations, and serious allegations clearly, clearly, entail serious damages," he said.
The lawsuit is not related to another suit filed several weeks ago in federal court in San Diego, charging the Titan Corporation and CACI International with engaging in a pattern of racketeering in violation of U.S. and international laws.