(CN) – Breaking through a decade-long stalemate, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that survivors of torture at Abu Ghraib can take private military contractor CACI Premier Technology to trial in Virginia.
The U.S. military detained about 50,000 men and women at the Abu Ghraib prison camp following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but reports of abuse were constant.
In 2008, after the scandal came to a hear with the widespread dissemination of photographs that showed grinning soldiers posing next to naked and hooded Iraqi prisoners, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit in Alexandria.
CACI, which had provided the Pentagon with linguistic services in Iraq, sought to dismiss the suit, but U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected their maneuver in a 1-page order today following a hearing.
The ruling reiterates findings Brinkema made a little more than a year ago in advancing the bulk of conspiracy claims.
“There is evidence in the record that this mistreatment has caused severe and lasting physical and mental damage to all three plaintiffs,” Brinkema wrote in a 54-page ruling. “Each has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, and each has submitted an expert report detailing how these mental illnesses have caused significant problems in plaintiffs’ personal and professional lives up through today.”
Baher Azmy, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, celebrated the scheduling of the trial on April 23.
“After the smoke from more than a decade of litigation fights has settled, we now see an important moment in the quest for justice and accountability for victims of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib,” Azmy said in a statement.
“Our clients have waited patiently for the lawyers to do their work – now, they finally have a chance to tell their story directly to an American jury.”
Salah Al-Ejaili, one of three torture survivors named as a plaintiff in the case, emphasized that this date had been a long time coming.
“We faced a lot of obstacles along the way that we had to surpass and we stayed patient because we wanted to win our right to equality in the law,” Al-Ejaili said in a statement.
The lead plaintiff in the case is Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari.