Justice for Abu Ghraib

Historic Trial in April 2024

“It is enough that we tried and didn’t remain silent. We might not have received justice yet in our just case today, but what is more important is that we made it to trial and spoke up so the world could hear from us directly. This will not be the final word; what happened in Abu Ghraib is engraved into our memories and will never be forgotten in history." —Plaintiff Salah Al-Ejaili

UPDATE: On Thursday, May 2, Judge Brinkema declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict after 8 days of deliberation. Read our press release and watch Legal Director Baher Azmy on Democracy Now in an interview about the trial.


In 2008, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Iraqi torture survivors against U.S.-based government contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. On April 15, 2024, after nearly 16 years and more than 20 dismissal attempts by CACI, the case proceeded to trial in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The final in a series of cases, Al Shimari v. CACI is a rare opportunity for some measure of accountability for the egregious harms suffered by Iraqis after the U.S. invasion in 2003. In fact, this was the first lawsuit where victims of U.S. post-9/11 torture had their day in court. 

The trial coincided with the 20th anniversary of when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke and the world learned the horrifying treatment Iraqi detainees were subjected to in the U.S.-run detention center. Photographs and video showed naked, hooded detainees posed in human pyramids, prisoners on leashes, and widespread sexual assault – images so horrifying, they are burned into the conscience of a generation. The revelations drew demands for accountability and redress from around the world. Subsequent military investigations led to the court-martial of a small number of low-level U.S. soldiers as well as documentation of the role played in the torture at Abu Ghraib by private military contractors from two U.S. corporations: Titan Corporation (later known as L-3 Services and Engility Corporation) and CACI Premier Technology, Inc.

The three plaintiffs – Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, Asa’ad Hamza Hanfoosh Zuba’e, and Salah Hasan Nusaif Al-Ejaili – endured the infamous tactics and their aftermath. After 20 years, they finally had the opportunity to share what they endured at Abu Ghraib through their testimony at trial – Salah, live in the courtroom in Alexandria, and Asa’ad and Suhail via video-link from Baghdad.


More about Al Shimari v. CACI


The federal lawsuit alleges that CACI participated in a conspiracy to commit unlawful conduct including torture and war crimes at Abu Ghraib prison, where it was hired by the U.S. to provide interrogation services. The plaintiffs were all held at the “hard site,” an area of the Abu Ghraib prison where the most severe techniques were used in 2003-2004.

The case is filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, where CACI is headquartered, and brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). This U.S. law from 1789 allows non-citizens who have been subjected to well-established violations of international law, such as torture and cruel treatment, to bring a case in U.S. federal court, including against a U.S. corporation, when there is a sufficient connection to the United States. The lawsuit alleges that CACI is liable for conspiracy to commit cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, torture, and war crimes, and for aiding and abetting these acts. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Since the case was filed in 2008, CACI has tried to dismiss it more than 20 times, invoking a range of legal defenses and immunities that argue at the core that CACI should not be held liable for conduct – even if unlawful – done in Iraq, while working under contract with the United States. This case has gone on appeal to the Fourth Circuit five times, and, after it failed to have the case dismissed, CACI sought a Supreme Court review – which was denied. The Supreme Court has three times narrowed the scope of the Alien Tort Statute since this lawsuit was filed, but the case has survived: in 2018, Judge Leonie Brinkema found that plaintiffs have sufficiently pled – and had evidence to support – their claims and that the case should proceed to a trial for a U.S. jury to decide the merits. Judge Brinkema reaffirmed this decision after the Supreme Court’s Nestle Alien Tort Statute decision. 

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Last modified 

May 7, 2024