Iraq slaughter : American lawyer honoured for helping out victims’ relatives

Kathmandu, June 14:

Former Peace Corps Employees Committee today felicitated Matthew K Handley, United States attorney and a former Peace Corps Volunteer, whose law firm won the case in providing compensation to nine Nepali labourers killed in Iraq in 2004.

Three other Nepalis, who were killed in the same incident, didn’t receive compensation as none of their kin filed a case against the company as per the American law. US ambassador to Nepal Nancy J Powell presented the certificate of appreciation to Handley on behalf of the committee.

“This is very positive as it is an important lesson that stressed the rule of law and sense of justice and court in Nepal,” Powell said. Handley sharing his team’s effort to fight for Nepalis said his bond with Nepalis while working as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in late nineties propelled him to advocate for them.

Journalist with Chicago Tribune Cam Simpson’s articles on the incident inspired him to take up the case, Handley said.

At first, Jordanian company Daoud and Partners, a subcontractor of American company Kellogg, Brown and Root that hired Nepalis promising jobs in Jordan denied to have recruited them, he said.

The 12 abducted were among the 79 Nepalis who were on way to US base in Iraq with many of them unknowing where they were heading for, he said. The insurgents had seized one of the trucks that was ferrying Nepalis. With the help of Nepal Institute of Development Studies, an NGO in Kathmandu, Handley’s team had managed to contact one of the Nepali labourers who had kept hold his contract paper that clearly stated that Daoud and Partners was their employer.

“An internal investigation by the Department of Defence in the United States produced the evidence,” he said. The United States Administrative Law Court for the Department of Law in May had ordered the hiring company’s insurance company to compensate families of nine Nepali labourers.

The court had ordered a monthly payment of $233 in compensation to the spouses and parents of each of the 12 Nepali killed in Iraq with an additional $ 75 for the victims having children.