WASHINGTON A defense contractor whose subsidiary was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to torture detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison has paid $5.28 million to former prisoners held there and at other U.S.-run detention sites in Iraq during the war.
The settlement on behalf of 71 former inmates marks the first successful effort by lawyers for former inmates 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.
Defense contractor Engility Holdings Inc. of Chantilly, Va., disclosed the payment in a document it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission two months ago.
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 said at an investors conference at the time.
On Tuesday, Baher Azmy, a lawyer for the ex-detainees, said that each of the 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.
“Private military contractors played a serious but often underreported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib,” said Azmy, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We are pleased that this settlement provides some accountability for one of those contractors and offers some measure of justice for the victims.”
Jennifer Barton, a spokesman for L-3 Communications, the former parent company of L-3 Services, said the company does not comment on legal matters.