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Rumsfeld faces German legal test

BBC | November 14, 2006

A lawyers' group has asked Germany to sue former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over alleged prisoner abuse in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.
The complaint was filed by the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of a Saudi man held in Cuba and 11 Iraqis held in Baghdad.

German law allows the pursuit of cases originating anywhere in the world.

State prosecutors have yet to decide whether to pursue the case. An earlier request for a case in 2004 was dropped.

Michael Ratner, the centre's president, said he felt the case had a better chance of success now because Mr Rumsfeld was no longer in office and could not exert the same degree of "political pressure".

He added that the centre had more evidence than it did in 2004, citing the case of a detained Saudi national, Mohamad al-Qahtani.

"Al-Qahtani was a man who the US alleged is al-Qaeda, who is in Guantanamo and exposed was the entire torture log of al-Qahtani over a period of two months," Mr Ratner told the BBC.


The Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Mr Rumsfeld was instrumental in abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.

The group of international lawyers alleges that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved the use of torture to extract information from the prisoners.

Wolfgang Kaleck, the lawyer leading the attempt to bring the case, said former US Army Brig-Gen Janis Karpinski would be the "star witness".

Ms Karpinski was commander of US prisons in Iraq when several prisoners were abused by US soldiers at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib facility.

Mr Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday following Republican losses to the Democrats in the US mid-term elections.

The US denies any torture has taken place at Guantanamo Bay and has defended its interrogation techniques.

Abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was brought to world attention after soldiers' photographs of the incidents were released and published.

Ten US soldiers have been found guilty of abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. The US says they were acting without official sanction

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