LAS VEGAS (AP) - LAS VEGAS (AP) - The family of a man who died in a Jordanian prison in 2007 has filed a torture and wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Nevada, seeking more than $100 million in damages from the kingdom, jail guards, officials and doctors.
Lawyer Jesse Sbaih, brother of the dead man, Firas Zaidan, said Wednesday he and his parents want to use the lawsuit to expose human rights abuses and mistreatment of prisoners in Jordan, a U.S. ally in the Middle East."We know we can't bring him back," Sbaih said of his older brother, who died May 10, 2007, six days after his arrest in a rent dispute in the Red Sea resort city of Aqaba. "The only thing we can do in his honor is make sure no one ever will face such severe torture, beatings and killing."
The Jordanian Embassy in Washington, D.C., issued a statement Wednesday calling Zaidan's death "a tragic situation."
"We understand the family has suffered a great loss," the statement said. "At this point, however, we cannot comment on the case in the U.S."
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas seeks damages on behalf of Zaidan's parents, Ismail Sbaih and Hanan Sbaih of Henderson, and his widow, Barbara Cole of Harrisburg, Pa. Jesse Sbaih, a Henderson-based attorney, said the family would donate any monetary award to a charity benefiting orphans.
"We're not seeking financial gain out of this," he said.
The civil lawsuit cites a Human Rights Watch investigation of Zaidan's death, and also alleges conspiracy, battery, false imprisonment, negligence and other acts by prison and Jordanian authorities.
Zaidan, 35, was vacationing in Aqaba when he was arrested after arguing with a landlord about a rent payment for an apartment near the beach, his brother said.
A judge sentenced Zaidan to six days in prison for disorderly conduct.
he lawsuit alleges Zaidan was beaten multiple times with cables and sticks, and injected with a potentially lethal dose of the antidepressant Cloripramine before he was found dead four days later in a solitary cell.
It was clear that (Zaidan) had been severely tortured and beaten to death," the lawsuit says, citing bloodstained clothing his family later received from prison officials, and autopsy reports of bruises, a broken rib and injuries to Zaidan's lungs, kidneys, liver and spleen.
The document also points to a police news release to Jordanian media saying that Zaidan died of heart failure at a hospital in Aqaba, and a Public Safety Directorate spokesman's denial a week later that Zaidan's corpse showed any evidence of beatings or assault.