PITTSBURGH – An Iraqi refugee is suing Saddam Hussein (search) and his regime for the alleged murder of his father, who the suit says was tortured and killed because he was viewed as a threat.
Aziz Al-Sayed Jassim Ali Rasheed, a Shiite Muslim (search) who opposed Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, was a prominent opposition leader, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court by Rasheed's 28-year-old son, Haider.
Rasheed was arrested and held for six months in 1987 and 1988 for writing a religious book Saddam viewed as critical, the suit states. He was last seen being whisked away by Iraqi officials in 1991, and is believed to have been tortured and killed, according to the suit.
"He arrests my father for nothing," Haider told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for Thursday editions.
The suit appears to be the first filed by an Iraqi in a U.S. court against Saddam's deposed government, said Joe Stork, a Middle East division director at Human Rights Watch (search). Similar lawsuits have been filed against other foreign governments and leaders for human rights violations.
Saddam's two sons, Odai and Qusai, were also named as defendants. The suit seeks damages from Iraqi government assets seized by the U.S. government.
A New York lawyer familiar with the federal law under which the suit was filed said it will be difficult to collect damages. Attorney Gregory Wallance said that since Hussein's whereabouts are unknown, it would be difficult to serve him with the legal papers -- and anyone who won damages from the toppled leader would have to establish precedence over many other claims.
"I suspect the lawsuit has more symbolic value than tangible value," Wallance said.