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German lawyer to sue Rumsfeld

Published: 10:35AM Sunday April 29, 2007 Source: Reuters

A German lawyer is planning to join forces with Spanish counterparts to file a lawsuit in Spain against former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the alleged abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons, a German magazine reported on Saturday.

The move by Berlin lawyer Wolfgang Kaleck comes after German prosecutors said on Friday they had decided against launching an investigation into Rumsfeld over the abuse claims.

"There is no safe haven for Rumsfeld," weekly magazine Der Spiegel quoted Kaleck's associate, Michael Ratner, as saying.

"If the Germans aren't bold enough then we'll try in Spain," he added.

Kaleck could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Civil rights groups filed a suit with Germany's Federal Prosecutors Office in Karlsruhe in November seeking war crimes charges, arguing Germany could prosecute foreign violations of international law under its 2002 universal jurisdiction law.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said 11 Iraqi citizens held at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and one Saudi detainee at the US Guantanamo Bay base on Cuba were victims of beatings, sleep and food deprivation and sexual abuse.

However, the German prosecutors office said it could not open an investigation as the individuals in question were not present in the country.

In addition to Rumsfeld, the suit named 13 other US officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, former CIA director George Tenet and high-ranking military officers.

The 13 others will also be named in the Spanish suit, Der Spiegel said.