A court in the United States has found a former Somali military commander guilty of torture and awarded one of his victims damages to the tune of $1.5 million.
The Center for Justice and Accountability, CJA, a U.S.-based group that represented Farhan Warfaa said on Tuesday that the Virginia jury had found that Col. Yusuf Abdi Ali had tortured their client in 1987.
Warfaa, a semi-nomadic herder described the verdict of the court as a vindication of the excesses that he suffered along with others (in present-day Somaliland) at the hands of the commander Ali (alias Tukeh.)
“The jury awarded Mr. Warfaa $500,000 in damages, including $100,000 in punitive damages. Congrats to Mr. Warfaa and the legal team from CJA_News and DLA_Piper!” CJA said in a tweet.
In relaying facts of the case, CJA wrote: “Over the course of a three-day trial, the jury heard evidence that early one morning in 1987, Mr. Warfaa was rounded up with other men from his village and taken to the Military Headquarters of the Fifth Brigade of the Somali National Army, where Col. Tukeh held command.
“Mr. Warfaa testified that Col. Tukeh’s soldiers tortured and interrogated him, and that Col. Tukeh himself shot Mr. Warfaa multiple times at point blank range, leaving him for dead.
“Miraculously, he survived. Over thirty years after that ordeal, Mr. Warfaa faced Col. Tukeh in a federal courtroom, and prevailed.
“Evidence presented at trial included eyewitness testimony from former officers of the Somali National Army and other survivors of Somali National Army abuses, and expert testimony from former U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia, Ambassador Robert Gosende and medical experts, Dr. Allen S. Keller and Professor Daryn Reicherter.”
The incident happened under the regime of President Siad Barre specifically against members of the Isaaq community during the Somali civil war. Present-day Somalia continues to battle against Al-Shabaab insurgents.
Semi-autonomous Somaliland enjoys relatively better stability but has failed to attain international recognition 28 years after declaring independence from Somalia. Hargeisa has been under pressure to hold talks with Mogadishu.