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Jury in Federal Lawsuit Deadlocks on Abu Ghraib Torture Allegations

U.S.Jury in Federal Lawsuit Deadlocks on Abu Ghraib Torture Allegations

A federal jury in Virginia said on Thursday that it was unable to reach a verdict in a lawsuit filed by three Iraqi men who said they were tortured while being held by the United States at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison two decades ago.

The jurors had deliberated for almost eight days, and with the panel still deadlocked the judge in the case, Leonie M. Brinkema of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, declared a mistrial on Thursday.

The three plaintiffs had sued a defense contractor, CACI Premier Technology, asserting that CACI employees working as interrogators at the prison directed U.S. military guards to abuse the men in an effort to “soften” them up.

The testimony of the three men last month was the first time a civilian jury had heard allegations of post-9/11 abuses directly from detainees.

In a handwritten note to the judge on Thursday, the jury foreman wrote that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, largely because of differing interpretations of the evidence and of a legal defense known as the “borrowed servant” doctrine, where CACI could avoid liability by proving that its employees were under government control.

The mistrial means that the lawsuit, filed in 2008, can continue, if the plaintiffs seek another trial and the court agrees.

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