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Uber Driver Ordered to Pay $500K to Torture Victim

Yusuf Abdi Ali was commander in Somali military
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2019 3:59 AM CDT
A ride share car displays Lyft and Uber stickers on its front windshield.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(Newser) – Uber and Lyft say they have permanently removed accused war criminal Yusuf Abdi Ali from their apps. The Somali ex-colonel, who drove for the rideshare apps in northern Virginia, was ordered to pay torture victim Farhan Tani Warfaa $500,000 by a jury in the state Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. Warfaa testified that in 1987, when he was 17, Somali troops commanded by Ali abducted him and tortured him for months before Ali shot him and left him for dead. The jury found Ali responsible for the torture and fined him $400,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages. Warfaa, who has been pursuing Ali in the courts since 2004, said he was "very pleased" with the outcome.

Ali, who served under dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, was deported from Canada after a 1992 documentary revealed that he was suspected of torturing and killing hundreds of people, the BBC reports. He was also deported from the US, but returned on a spousal visa in 1996 and worked as a security guard at Dulles International Airport before becoming an Uber driver around 18 months ago. Ali—who had a 4.89 rating at Uber—told undercover CNN reporters last month that passing the background check was easy. A spokesperson for Checkr, which carries out background checks for Uber and Lyft, says that "under federal law, consumer reporting agencies that process background checks rely on criminal records that have been filed in a court of law rather than unverified sources like Google search results." (Read more Somalia stories.)

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