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[casi] Iraqi shepherd sues Rumsfeld, Franks
Iraqi shepherd sues Rumsfeld, Franks over loss of relatives and flock

RAMADI, Iraq, June 13 (AFP) - An Iraqi shepherd is seeking 200 million
dollars in damages from the US military for the deaths of 17 members of his
family as well as 200 sheep in a missile strike, in the first such suit
filed through the courts of the US-led occupation administration.

The first hearing will take place on July 20 at the tribunal of Ramadi, 100
kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad.

"The trial will be Iraq's first against US troops because we believe they
used excessive force against the Iraqi people who cooperated with the United
States to topple Saddam Hussein's regime," Abud Sarhan's lawyer told AFP.

Lawyer Rabah al-Alwani was approached by Sarhan, 71, to file a suit against
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, commander of
US forces in Iraq, after the shepherd claimed a US missile landed on his
tent on April 4.

Days before, Sarhan had left his home village of Al-Altash, near an Iraqi
military base that was heavily bombed by coalition warplanes.

He had set up a tent in the nearby desert to host 20 of his family members
and relatives in three distinct sections, one for women, one for men and the
other for children, said his half-brother Hamad Sarhan, 25, who was wounded
in the attack.

"We thought we would be safe there. There were no military positions, only
shepherds and their flocks.

"Before the night prayer, a missile landed next to us, shortly afterwards
another one fell right into the women's section.

"It was horrible. We could not make out whose limbs were scattered on the
ground," he said.

All his family members died, except for him and his half-brother as the two
had stepped outside the tent to perform their ablutions in preparation for
the evening prayer.

He said 200 of their 700 sheep also died in what he said was a coalition

Missile debris, children's clothes and sheep carcasses were still littering
the ground two months later, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.

The shepherd could not be interrogated as he had taken his 300 cows to graze
up north, in the lush fields of Makhmur.

"We went to Ramadi's tribunal to file a suit and it was deemed receivable
because we produced all the requested documents," said Alwani.

The tribunal then informed the coalition through Iraq's justice ministry
where one of the coalition advisers is providing technical assistance, he

His colleague Aref al-Dulaimi said the shepherd could reasonably argue for
200 million dollars in compensation.

"We hope the two US leaders will appear in front of the tribunal or that
they will be represented," he also said.

He said Ramadi's tribunal had sent a letter to the Iraqi justice ministry
which must now contact the foreign affairs ministry. The latter will send a
letter to Iraq's embassy in Qatar to inform the US military's Central
Command there of the trial date in Ramadi.

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