Iraqis who alleged Abu Ghraib torture get $5M settlement
WASHINGTON — A defense contractor whose subsidiary was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to torture detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has paid $5.28 million to 71 former inmates held there and at other U.S.-run detention sites between 2003 and 2007.
The settlement in the case involving Engility Holdings Inc. of Chantilly, Va., marks the first successful effort by lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other detention centers to collect money from a U.S. defense contractor in lawsuits alleging torture. Another contractor, CACI, is expected to go to trial over similar allegations this summer.
The payments were disclosed in a document that Engility filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission two months ago but which has gone essentially unnoticed.
The defendant in the lawsuit, L-3 Services Inc., now an Engility subsidiary, provided translators to the U.S. military in Iraq. In 2006, L-3 Services had more than 6,000 translators in Iraq under a $450 million-a-year contract, an L-3 executive told an investors conference at the time.
On Tuesday, a lawyer for the ex-detainees, Baher Azmy, said that each of the 71 Iraqis received a portion of the settlement. Azmy declined to say how the money was distributed among them. He said there was an agreement to keep details of the settlement confidential.
Judge: GI in WikiLeaks case was illegally punished
FORT MEADE, Md. — An Army private suspected of sending reams of classified documents to the secret-sharing WikiLeaks website was illegally punished at a Marine Corps brig and should get 112 days cut from any prison sentence he receives if convicted, a military judge ruled Tuesday.
Army Col. Denise Lind ruled during a pretrial hearing that authorities went too far in their strict confinement of Pfc. Bradley Manning for nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., in 2010 and 2011. Manning was confined to a windowless cell 23 hours a day, sometimes with no clothing. Brig officials said it was to keep him from hurting himself or others.
Lind said Manning’s confinement was “more rigorous than necessary.” She added that the conditions “became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests.”
Manning faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of life behind bars. His trial begins March 6.
The 25-year-old intelligence analyst had sought to have the charges thrown out, arguing the conditions were egregious. Military prosecutors had recommended a seven-day sentence reduction, conceding Manning was improperly kept for that length of time on highly restrictive suicide watch, contrary to a psychiatrist’s recommendation.
India accuses Pakistani troops of killing 2 soldiers
NEW DELHI — Indian army officials said Tuesday that two of their soldiers were slain by Pakistani troops who attacked an Indian military post in Kashmir, the second fatal clash in the divided region in two days.
The incident is likely to further heighten tension at a time when the two wary neighbors have been working to improve relations following the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants.
Maj. Gen. S.L. Narasimhan, a spokesman for the Indian army, told reporters that one of the slain soldiers’ bodies was badly mutilated. News reports, citing army sources, said at least one of the bodies was beheaded, while A.K. Sahu, area deputy police commissioner, said Pakistani troops “slit the throats of two (Indian) army soldiers.”
Pakistani troops slipped into the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, where they encountered an Indian patrol in the Poonch district, the Indian army said in a statement.
“Pakistan army troops, having taken advantage of thick fog and mist in the forested area, were moving toward (our) own posts,” it added. “The firefight between Pakistan and own troops continued for approximately half an hour after which the intruders retreated back toward their side.”
In a statement, the Pakistani military, without elaborating, denied “the Indian allegation of unprovoked firing.”
India vowed to raise the issue “sternly” through diplomatic channels, with the military calling it “a significant escalation to the continuing series of cease-fire violations and infiltration attempts supported by (the) Pakistan army.”
Other army officials said at least two soldiers were hospitalized with injuries.
The incident follows the reported killing Sunday of a Pakistani soldier by Indian troops, raising the prospect that this was a retaliatory move. In the earlier incident, both sides claimed the other country’s troops had violated their territory.