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War crimes probe sought for Rumsfeld

BERLIN - Lawyers for inmates of Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay asked German prosecutors Tuesday to open a war crimes investigation of outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other U.S. officials for their alleged roles in abuse at the detention centers.

Although the lawyers who filed the lawsuit acknowledged while there was little chance of seeing Rumsfeld in a German jail, the point was simply to increase the pressure on top brass they say are culpable. German federal prosecutors said they would examine the case.

"We are not expecting that Rumsfeld will appear in a court, but we are hoping investigators will begin looking into the case," said Wolfgang Kaleck, a German lawyer involved in the suit.

The 220-page lawsuit, which also names 13 other U.S. officials, was sent to federal prosecutors under a German law that allows the prosecution of war crimes regardless of where they were committed. It alleges that Rumsfeld personally ordered and condoned torture.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said U.S. officials had not seen the complaint, but said media reports suggested it was "frivolous."

"Abu Ghraib is something that the U.S. government has investigated very thoroughly," Whitman said, noting more than a dozen probes as well as congressional hearings. "The appropriate individuals have been held accountable."

Former U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq, said she would testify against her superiors because only a handful of low-ranking soldiers have been convicted in the abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

Karpinski, who was relieved of her command and demoted to colonel last year, said she wanted to "be a voice for my soldiers."

"They were tried and convicted in the world court before they ever set foot in any courtroom ... while people who are far more culpable and responsible have walked away blameless," Karpinski said during a presentation of the case in Berlin.

There have been 11 convictions and about a dozen courts-martial in the United States related to Abu Ghraib.

The suit is brought on behalf of 12 alleged torture victims

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