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Man convicted of torture and export of weapons parts to Iraq


May 22, 2023

WASHINGTON — A federal jury convicted a man Friday of charges of torture and exporting weapons parts and services to Iraq, among other crimes, the Justice Department announced Monday. Press release.

It is only the second time a defendant has been convicted of torture since the federal torture statute went into effect in 1994, according to the statement.

Ross Roggio, a 54-year-old Pennsylvania resident, tortured an Estonian citizen in 2015 in Iraq and illegally exported firearm parts. Roggio was developing a weapons factory in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the victim was an employee at the facility.

The factory employee «raised his concern about the weapons project», for which Roggio was accused of coordinating with Kurdish soldiers to kidnap the victim, according to the accusation. Roggio then «suffocated the victim with a belt, threatened to cut off her finger, and ordered the Kurdish soldiers to repeatedly beat, goad, strangle, and physically and mentally abuse the victim over a period of 39 days,» the statement read. press. details.

When contacted for comment on the conviction, Roggio’s attorney wrote in an email, in part, «It was an extremely challenging case, Roggio testified that he shared his co-workers/employees’ fears that if they did not produce weapons for the Taliban brothers, would be killed. When he learned that an employee was detained by the Taliban, he returned to Kurdistan from Greece and undertook a misguided effort to secure the employee’s release. (Which he ultimately did).»

«Roggio brutally tortured another human being to prevent interference with his illegal activities,» Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., assistant attorney general, said in the news release. «Thanks to the courage of the victim and other witnesses, the hard work of US law enforcement and the help of Estonian authorities, he will now be held accountable for his cruelty.»

the Department of Justice define torture as «acts specifically designed to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering».

In addition to torturing and illegally exporting firearms parts and services to Iraq, Roggio was also convicted of conspiracy to commit torture, conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States, merchandise smuggling, wire fraud, and money laundering.

rogio was arrested in February 2022.

Ken Dilanian and daniel barnes contributed.