WASHINGTON (AFP) — A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 of his slain comrades filed a lawsuit in federal court against the construction and services giant KBR on charges of human trafficking, for allegedly tricking the men into working in Iraq.
The men, between the ages of 18 and 27, "were recruited in Nepal to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan," read a statement from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, one of the law firms handling the case.
However once they arrived in Jordan "they were not provided the expected employment." Their passports were seized, and they were told they were being sent to Iraq "to provide menial labor" at the Al-Asad Air Base, the statement read.
Twelve of the men were packed into a car and driven to Iraq, but on the road were stopped by insurgents with the Ansar al-Sunna Army, taken hostage and executed. The executions were posted on the Internet.
The 13th man, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was not kidnapped and arrived at the US military site in August 2004, where he worked in a KBR warehouse. "For 15 months, Mr. Gurung was held in Iraq against his will, before KBR and Daoud allowed him to return home to Nepal," the statement read.
The plaintiffs "allege that the illicit trafficking scheme -- from their recruitment in Nepal to their eventual employment in Iraq -- was engineering by KBR and its subcontractor," identified as Daoud & Partners, read the statement.
KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root -- a former subsidiary of the Halliburton energy firm which was once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, was at the time the largest contractor servicing the US military in Iraq.
Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for the Houston, Texas-based KBR, told AFP that her company had not yet seen the lawsuit "so it is premature for us to comment at this time."
She did say that her company "in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behavior."
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