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Relatives of 2 who died at Gitmo sue Pentagon

world Updated: Jan 30, 2009 15:40 IST
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Families of two Saudi detainees who committed suicide in June 2006 while being held at Guantanamo Bay have sued the Pentagon, alleging that torture and brutal conditions at the offshore prison led the men to their deaths.

The New-York based Center for Constitutional Rights said the parents of Yassar Talal al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed al-Salami are seeking unspecified damages for the " illegal detention, torture, inhumane conditions, and ultimate deaths" of their sons.

The final brief in the civil suit was filed on Thursday in US District Court in Washington DC.

"It doesn't really matter if this was an intentional death or an accidental death or suicide. The point is that the US government bears responsibility," said Talal al-Zahrani, father of Yassar Talal al-Zahrani and one of the plaintiffs, in a statement from the legal group.

He alleged his son "experienced harm, systematic torture, and then wrongful death" at Guantanamo, where he had been detained for more than four years without charge. He was 21 when he died.

Relatives of a third prisoner, Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi of Yemen, who was also found dead in his cell on June 10, 2006, declined to join the suit naming former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and 23 other military and medical officials at the remote US base in Cuba.

US Navy investigators said the three hanged themselves with bed sheets inside their cells and the military said the suicides prompted a complete review of operations at the prison where the US now holds about 245 men on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.