An Iraqi refugee who was detained and tortured by Saddam Hussein’s regime was awarded $88 million in 2004.
In 1991, 20-year-old Abdullah K. Alkhuzai was arrested by the Iraqi government following a Shiite uprising in Nasiriya. He was imprisoned at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, where he was tortured for over a month. He “was burned with cigars, starved, electrically shocked three times a day, had a knife put through his arm and witnessed several other” prisoners being executed. A video made to show Saddam Hussein how the Shiites were treated depicted Ali Hassan al-Mujid (aka “Chemical Ali”) holding a gun to Alkhuzai’s head as guards moved away, expecting him to be killed.
Alkhuzai was moved to a prison in Nasiriya. He carried an envelope which, unbeknownst to him, contained an order that he be executed the next day. That night, however, seven prisoners, including Alkhuzai, escaped. They crossed the desert for five days before the United States accepted them as political refugees.
Alkhuzai filed suit in a Pennsylvania federal court against Saddam Hussein; the estates of his sons, Uday and Quesay; Chemical Ali; seven other henchmen and the Republic of Iraq. He sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act. None of the defendants responded to the suit.
Alkhuzai was awarded compensatory damages of $3 million against the individual defendants, plus punitive damages of $50 million against Saddam Hussein and the estates of his sons; $25 million against Chemical Ali and $10 million against the remaining individual defendants. The awards were based on the total worth of each defendant, and totaled $88 million. Alkhuzai was required to address the issue of sovereign immunity before the district court would award damages against Iraq. He was represented by attorney Regis McClelland of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The United States government subsequently intervened in the case “in order to advise the Court of its position regarding the procedures used by plaintiff in his attempt to effect service of process on the individual defendants.” Federal officials alleged that service was improper and claimed that “the judgment against these defendants is subject to being set aside under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60 for lack of proper service should one of the Iraqi defendants appear to contest it in these proceedings or any subsequent proceedings.” See: Alkhuzai v. Hussein, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Penn.), Case No. 03-cv-001719.
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Related legal case
Alkhuzai v. Hussein
|Cite||USDC No. 03-CV-1719 (WD Pa. 6/21/04)|