CACI International, a U.S. corporation sued in 2004 for allegations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, has now filed suit against former detainees over legal expenses.
The case against CACI was dismissed in June by a federal judge at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. A group of 256 Iraqis sued the corporation for allegedly committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual assault, torture, and other various transgressions at Abu Ghraib. The case was dropped when the presiding judge decided that, because the alleged crimes took place in Iraq, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria had no jurisdiction.
Now, CACI has filed suit against the corporation’s accusers from the 2004 case, asking for $15,580 to cover legal expenses from the original investigation. According to the court filing, about two thirds of the bill would cover costs related to depositions in the case, including witness per diem travel fees and deposition transcripts. About $3,500 would cover the costs of medical examinations and an interpreter for the plaintiff depositions, including fees incurred when examinations were cancelled without sufficient advance warning.
The plaintiffs oppose the measure, and their attorneys have filed a notice stating their intention to appeal the case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
“[The plaintiffs] have very limited financial means, even by non-U.S. standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendants in the case,” the filing said. “At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult—and only recently arguable—grounds.”
“Given the wealth disparities between this multi-billion dollar entity and four torture victims, given what they went through, it’s surprising and appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their rights to sue in US courts,” said Baher Azmy, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights.
However, others argue that the suit is nothing out of the ordinary. “There’s nothing unusual about it at all,” said Michael T. Kirpatrick, an attorney at the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, noting that the requested payment would only cover a portion of the costs incurred by CACI.