Conflict & Justice

Iraq: Virginia contractor pays $5.28m to tortured Abu Ghraib inmates


An Iraqi Baghdad Central Prison security guard stands guard on February 21, 2009 outside the reopened Baghdad Central Prison in Abu Ghraib west of Baghdad, Iraq.


Wathiq Khuzaie

A US defense contractor has paid $5.28 million to 71 former inmates of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after its subsidiary was sued for conspiring to torture detainees there between 2003 and 2007.

The Associated Press reported that the case, involving Engility Holdings Inc. of Chantilly, Virginia, marked the first "successful effort" by former US detainees to collect money from a defense contractor.

A second contractor, CACI, was expected to go to trial over similar allegations this summer, the AP wrote.

Abu Ghraib, established in 1970 west of Baghdad, was once used by Saddam Hussein as a torture den, according to this New York Daily News report.

However, it became synonymous with abuse under the US occupation after the release in 2004 of explosive photographs that showed physical, sexual and psychological abuse of Iraqi detainees there, the Daily reported.

Eleven US soldiers who were stationed at Abu Ghraib were dishonorably discharged from the army over the scandal. 

One soldier who featured prominently in the photos, Lynndie England, was convicted of conspiracy, maltreating detainees, and committing an indecent act in 2005, and served 521 days in a military prison.

More from GlobalPost: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib soldier, still not sorry

Abu Ghraib was closed in 2006, after the US handed it back to the Iraqis.

It reopened in 2009, renamed the Baghdad Central Prison and extensively renovated by the Iraqi Ministry of Justice.

According to the Ministry, the prison which can hold up to 3,000 inmates.