RAW STORYLawsuit filed in Germany against Rumsfeld for war crimesTue Nov 14, 2006 18:24
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Lawsuit filed in Germany against Rumsfeld for war crimes
dpa German Press Agency
Published: Tuesday November 14, 2006
Berlin- Eleven former prisoners of the US armed forces on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Germany calling for outgoing US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other American officials to be investigated for war crimes. Backed by human rights groups, the 11 ex-prisoners say they were tortured at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on the orders of Rumsfeld and other top members of US President George W Bush's government.
Washington says abuses documented in photos from Abu Ghraib of soldiers beating and assaulting Iraqi prisoners were one-off events perpetrated by rogue guards.
Germany has been chosen for the lawsuit because the country's legal system allows war crimes committed anywhere in the world - even if alleged perpetrators are non-Germans - to be tried by German courts.
The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of the alleged US torture victims by 22 individuals and rights groups, including the US-based Centre for Constitutional Rights. It charges that Rumsfeld and others ordered, aided, or failed to prevent war crimes.
"Abiding by the absolute ban on the use of torture should be a matter of course," said Wolfgang Kaleck, a lawyer who led preparation of the lawsuit.
A key witness for the bid to put Rumsfeld and others on trial in Germany is the former commander of US prisons in Iraq, Brig. General Janis Karpinski, who alleges she was made a scapegoat for the Abu Ghraib scandal in order to protect senior officials.
A similar attempt to have Rumsfeld charged under German law in 2004 was rejected by the country's federal prosecutor.
Kaleck admits the present bid may again fail.
"You know, it could be that we again suffer a legal defeat. But we have at least made our message loud and clear: It was torture and it was ordered from the top," he said.
Kaleck adds that even if German courts decline to investigate Rumsfeld, the outgoing US defense secretary will have to live with the insecurity that he could suddenly face legal problems in other countries like Spain or Sweden.
In addition to Rumsfeld those named in the lawsuit include among others former CIA Director George Tenet, former commander of all US forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
© 2006 dpa German Press Agency
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