A Virginia jury found a former Uber driver who once served as a colonel in the Somali army and was responsible for torturing a man there more than 30 years ago.
Yusuf Abdi Ali was found responsible by the civilian jury in the suburb of Alexandria of the same name, who closed the $ 500,000 verdict against him on Tuesday after three days of consultation.
Plaintiff Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa, member of the Isaaq clan in northern Somalia, came to the US and testified during the trial last week.
He said he was 17 years old and herded camels and cattle from his family's farm when he was arrested in a massive arrest in December 1987 over a missing water tanker.
Yusuf Abdi Ali (seen earlier this month at the court) was held responsible for torture by a civilian jury in Virginia on alleged war crimes while he was a settler of the Somali army
Plaintiff Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa (center) celebrates with his legal team after flying from Somalia to the US to prosecute Ali for his harassment in the African nation in 1987
Yusuf Abdi Ali is seen above driving an Uber in the Washington, DC area recently. He was suspended by the app earlier this month after publicizing the trial
Warfaa said he was regularly beaten and detained during weeks of imprisonment and interrogations.
He eventually said that Ali, a colonel known as & # 39; Tukeh & # 39; or & # 39; The Crow & # 39 ;, shot him several times and left him for dead when his interrogation was interrupted by a rebellious attack.
According to the trial, Ali ordered his subordinates to bury Warfaa, but the soldiers soon realized that Warfaa was still alive and instead sought bribery from Warfaa & # 39; s family to let him live.
Ali, now living in Alexandria, acknowledged that he was a Somali colonel, but refused to torture Warfaa.
The jury found Ali responsible for the torture of Warfaa, but it explicitly rejected a claim that Ali was responsible for the attempted extrajudicial murder of Warfaa, although Warfaa immediately stated that it was Ali who shot him.
Ali & # 39; s lawyer, Joseph Peter Drennan, said the jury's verdict indicates that sharing the Warfaa testimony did not believe, and held Ali responsible for the torture only under the theory that the soldiers who tortured warfaa under the command stood by Ali, who led the 5th brigade of the army.
Ali (center) was a Somali army colonel who was known as & # 39; Tukeh & # 39; or & # 39; The Crow & # 39;
Somali Farhan Warfaa from the Isaaq clan with his American lawyers from the Center for Justice and Accountability. Warfaa flew from Somalia to the US to testify against Ali
The trial was first filed in 2004. It was postponed for 15 years, mainly due to legal debate about whether a Somali person could appear in the US due to alleged torture overseas.
Parts of the lawsuit were ejected, but Warfaa was allowed to continue the lawsuit against the federal law Protection of victims of torture.
Drennan said the case left Ali in an almost unsustainable position to defend himself for the actions of his subordinates more than 30 years ago.
He also noted that these actions occurred halfway the world in a country that was separated by a civil war, where the central government collapsed.
& # 39; This idea of universal jurisdiction, and US courts that agree on cases like this that happened far away, and long ago, is very problematic, & # 39; said Drennan.
Warfaa, who filed the case with the help of the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability, said in a statement that the verdict was not only a statement for me, but also for many others in Somaliland who suffered the command of Colonel Tukeh. & # 39;
Drennan claimed that the real motive for the case is clan combat, and mentioned the efforts of members of the Isaaq clan to establish an independent state of Somaliland in northern Somalia.
Ali was listed on Uber as a Uber Pro Diamond driver with a 4.89 rating until he was suspended
The verdict comes a few years after the resolution of a similar lawsuit against former Prime Minister of Somalia under dictator Siad Barre, Mohamed Ali Samantar, who also settled in northern Virginia.
In that case, Samantar accepted a default judgment against him on the eve of the trial and refused to challenge the charges against him in court, although he said outside the court that he had committed no wrongdoing.
CJA lawyer Kathy Roberts said the evidence in the most recent case has confirmed the truth about crimes committed by the Siad Barre regime against members of the Isaaq community during the Somali civil war. The strength and perseverance of our customer Farhan is proof of everyone who seeks truth, justice and responsibility. & # 39;
It is unclear whether Warfaa will be able to collect a significant judgment.
Drennan said his client doesn't have that kind of money – he had been working as a Uber and Lyft driver until very recently until he lost that job due to publicity about his business.
Earlier this month, a CNN reporter went undercover and Ali filmed for Uber.
& # 39; I do this full time, & # 39; Ali said as he transported the suburban Virginia CNN reporter.
Ali told CNN that he prefers to work during the weekend because & # 39; that's where the money is & # 39 ;.
Until he was fired due to poor publicity, Ali was listed on Uber as a Uber Pro Diamond driver with a 4.89 rating.
Uber told CNN that it had suspended Ali from service. Lyft said that Ali has not used his service in 18 months, although his name has been removed from his systems.
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