Court Paves Way for Lawsuit on Torture

By Laura Strickler and Josh Scheinblum

A U.S. District court judge has ruled that a group of Iraqis may continue in their lawsuit against Virginia-based military contractor L-3 Services, Inc. for use of alleged torture tactics in Iraq.

The 72 Iraqis allege in their lawsuit that while detained they were tortured at the hands of contract interrogators working for L-3.

U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte dismissed L-3's claims that they are immune to civil lawsuits because they were working for the government in wartime. The judge said this was "not a valid basis for the defense."

When asked for comment, a spokesman for L-3 Services said "It's the L-3 policy not to discuss matters that are currently in litigation."

Court documents identify one of the L-3 former employees as Adel Nakhla who served as a translator in Iraq and now lives in Maryland.

The 72 Iraqis were imprisoned between 2003 and 2008 and were all released without being charged with any crimes according to court documents.

Among the abuses, the plaintiffs assert that they were forced to endure treatment that included "beatings, hanging by the hands and feet, electrical shocks, mock executions, threats of death and rape, sleep deprivation, stress positions, sexual assault, and sensory deprivation" the Judge's opinion notes.

The Court wrote, "These acts may justify a finding of torture; they may also justify a claim which falls into the broader category of wrongful behavior classified as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment."