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USA/Somalia: US court awards $21m in Somalia torture case

last updated Sep 06, 2012

The former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Samantar was declared responsible by a US court for torture and killings during the reign of ex-President Siad Barre in the 1980s. The court awarded $21 million to seven US-based Somali natives who sued Samantar on behalf of their relatives.

Samantar has been accused of personally ordering the torture, rape and killings of members of the minority Isaaq clan. The case was originally filed in 2004 and dismissed on the grounds that Samantar enjoyed legal immunity as a former foreign official. The US Supreme Court then ruled against the dismissal and the case proceeded to trial.

Samantarís lawyer will appeal the decision. Already, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals examines whether Samantar was properly denied immunity.

The plaintiffs are unlikely to receive the money since Samantar has declared himself bankrupt but they insist that the courtís decision will be vital for the development of Somalia. Since 1991, when the Barre regime was overthrown, Somalia has endured a state of clan-based and religious conflicts with no functioning central government.

Washington Post: Judge awards $21 million in torture lawsuit against former Somali prime minister Samantar

BBC News: Ex-Somali PM Samantar ordered to pay torture damages

NY Times: Virginia: $21 Million Award in Somalia Torture Case

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