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Dick Cheney charged over abuse in private prisons
A grand jury in south Texas indicted Mr Cheney and Alberto Gonzales, the former Attorney General, on state charges that they blocked an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners.
The indictment cites a "money trail" relating to Mr Cheney's financial stake in prison-related businesses, including the Vanguard Group, which has an interest in privately-run federal jails in the region.
According to a grand jury in Willacy County, Mr Cheney is "is "profiteering from depriving human beings of their liberty".
It also accuses him of a conflict of interest and of "at least misdemeanour assaults" on inmates because of his links to the prison companies.
Mr Gonzales is accused of using his position to "stop the investigations as to the wrong doings" in county prisons.
The grand jury wrote that it made its decision "with great sadness" but said it had no other choice but to indict the pair "because we love our country".
The indictment – which is being overseen by Juan Guerra, the local district attorney – has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it.
Juan Guerra has a history of launching eccentric court and political battles, and critics accused him of trying to settle old scores in his final weeks in office.
However, he insisted the decision to bring charges was made by the grand jury not by him.
He said the prison-related charges against the pair were a national issue and experts from across the US testified to the grand jury.
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