Days after his resignation, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other American officials may face criminal prosecution in Germany for their alleged roles in abuses at the military-run prisons at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, would seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, the Time magazine reported on Friday.
The plaintiffs in the case included 11 Iraqis who were detained at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings, the report said.
Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the United States said produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that one of the witnesses who would testify on their behalf was former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq.
Karpinski, who the lawyers said would be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case, had issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which said, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."
Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. A legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld.
U.S. officials had warned that the case could impact U.S.-Germany relations adversely. Rumsfeld had indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich unless Germany disposed of the case.