US Uber driver accused of Somalia war crimes ordered to pay $500,000 to victim

US Uber driver accused of Somalia war crimes ordered to pay $500,000 to victim
A former Somali military colonel has been ordered to pay $500,000 to a man who was allegedly tortured under his watch in the late 1980s.
2 min read
An Uber driver has been ordered by a US civil court to pay $500,000 to a man he allegedly tortured while acting as an army colonel in the Somali civil war.

Yusuf Abdi Ali, also known as "Colonel Tukeh", was accused by Farhan Warfaa of having led soldiers who beat and tortured him in the late 1980s.

Warfaa claims he was abducted by Ali's soldiers in 1987 as part of a crackdown on the Somali National Movement - a rebel group opposed to the rule of late dictator Siad Barre.

Ali's soldiers allegedly beat and stripped Warfaa and subjected him to a form of torture known as the "Mig", in which his hands and feet were tied behind his back to resemble the shape of the Somali Air Force's MIG aircraft. 

According to court papers, Ali was present for some parts of Warfaa's ordeal.
"It has been a long journey seeking justice for what happened to me and to my community. Today's verdict was a vindication not only for me, but also for many others in Somaliland who suffered under Col. Tukeh's command," Warfaa said in a post-verdict statement.

Prior to Tuesday's verdict, Ali had been tracked down by US news broadcaster CNN, which found that the former army colonel was working as a rideshare driver in Virginia.

Rideshare apps Uber and Lyft have since suspended Ali from providing services on their platforms.

Ali had previously been living in Canada, however was deported when his past came to light there.

Ali's legal team have expressed disappointment with the verdict, alleging that the case was politically-motivated to further the interests of the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland.

"Yusuf Abdi Ali was held liable because he was a commander in an army that served under a regime that had a poor human rights record. But aside from the plaintiff's testimony, there was virtually no evidence that Ali tortured anyone," defence lawyer Joseph Peter Drennan said.

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