The survivors of two Guantanamo detainees who died in U.S. military custody had their hopes of assigning civil liability dashed yesterday. The families of Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami saw their suit dismissed by a district court judge who relied on the Military Commissions Act of 2006 in her order.
The deaths, which were deemed "suicides" by the military, drew closer scrutiny after a Seton Hall study was released suggesting several reasons for suspicion. After attorney and ACS participant Scott Horton discussed the deaths on MSNBC, four soldiers who had been stationed at Guantanamo came forward and shed further light on what happened that night.
According to the Associated Press, the families of the deceased sought damages "under the Alien Tort Claims Act, alleging arbitrary detention, torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, violations of the Geneva Conventions, and cruel and unusual punishment." The judge dismissed these claims, deferring to the military's position that the detainees were enemy combatants rather than prisoners of war.
This determination "runs contrary to the evidence," Horton wrote today.