Updated: Friday, 01 Mar 2013, 2:50 PM EST
Published : Friday, 01 Mar 2013, 2:50 PM EST
McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Somalia's newly recognized government is asking the State Department to grant immunity to a former prime minister accused of human-rights abuses.
The letter issued this week by the Federal Republic of Somalia seeks immunity for Mohamed Ali Samantar, who now lives in Fairfax but was a top official in dictator Siad Barre's regime.
Last year, a federal judge in Virginia awarded seven Somali victims a $21 million judgment against Samantar for orchestrating a campaign of torture and killings against members of the Isaaq (ee-SOCK') clan.
At the time, Samantar was denied immunity because there was no functioning government to claim immunity on his behalf. In January, the U.S. formally recognized the Somali government.
Samantar's attorney said he expects the U.S. to honor Somalia's request and the case to be dismissed.
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