Washington: A US defence contractor, whose subsidiary was allegedly involved in a lawsuit of conspiring to torture detainees at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, has paid compensation of USD 5.28 million to 71 former inmates held there.
According to reports, the firm Engility Holdings Inc Of Chantilly, Virginia, has also paid compensation to those inmates who were held in other US-run detention sites between 2003 and 2007.
US firm Engility Holdings reportedly paid compensations on behalf of L-3 Services.
The settlement in the case marks the first successful effort by lawyers for former prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other detention centres to collect money from the US defence contractor in lawsuits alleging torture.
Another contractor, CACI, is also likely to face trial over similar allegations this summer.
The payments were disclosed in a document that Engility filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission two months ago but which has gone essentially unnoticed.
The defendant in the lawsuit, L-3 Services Inc., now an Engility subsidiary, provided translators to the US 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 told an investors conference at the time.
Yesterday, a lawyer for the ex-detainees, Baher Azmy, said that each of the 71 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 under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib," said Azmy, the 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 spokeswoman for L-3 Communications, the former parent company of L-3 Services, said the company does not comment on legal matters.
The ex-detainees filed the lawsuit in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 2008.
L-3 Services "permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq," the lawsuit stated.
With Agency inputs