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No criminal charges in handling of detainees at NYC center

Bureau of prisons continues separate investigation

From Kevin Bohn

Justice Department
New York
Civil Rights
September 11 attacks

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges relating to allegations of abuse of people arrested in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks and housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York City.

Spokesmen for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York said both the attorney's office and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department have decided not to bring any charges after conducting investigations.

Both groups launched probes after the Justice Department's inspector general issued a scathing report last June in which detainees alleged they suffered physical abuse at the Brooklyn facility.

In one report, a man said he was repeatedly slammed against walls while his arm was twisted behind his back. Several detainees also told investigators they were pulled from cars and slammed into walls when they arrived at the detention center.

Since the Bureau of Prisons has been told there will be no criminal charges, its spokesman, Dan Dunne, said bureau officials have "promptly undertaken an investigation that follows up on the evidence already compiled by the Office of Inspector General trying to build a case that will withstand scrutiny in an administrative hearing or judicial proceeding."

He would not describe who might be the target of such an investigation or how long it might last.

Metropolitan Detention Center was one of two facilities where the majority of the detainees arrested as part of the broad September 11 investigation was held and was one of the focuses of complaints about detainee mistreatment.

Former detainees allege abuse

On Monday, the latest lawsuit alleging detainee abuse was filed in U.S. District Court against Attorney General John Ashcroft, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Kathleen Sawyer, as well as a number of former and current Metropolitan Detention Center officials.

The Bureau of Prisons had no reaction to the latest lawsuit but emphasized any allegations of misconduct would be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

At least three lawsuits have now been filed against various Justice Department and prison officials alleging abuse at various facilities because of how some of the 762 immigration detainees arrested as part of the September 11 investigation were treated.

Former detainees Ehab Elmaghraby and Javaid Iqbal said they were subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

"They were deliberately and cruelly subjected to numerous instances of excessive force and verbal abuse, unlawful strip and body-cavity searches, the denial of medical treatment, the denial of adequate nutrition, extended detention in solitary confinement, the denial of adequate exercise, and deliberate interference with their rights to counsel and to exercise of their sincere religious briefs," lawyers for the men state in the lawsuit.

Elmaghraby, who was detained from October 1, 2001, through August 2002, has returned to his native Egypt. Iqbal, who was detained from about November 5, 2001, to about January 15, 2003, is now back in his native Pakistan.

CNN's Adam Reiss contributed to this report.

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