The special prosecutors’ report that concluded Chicago police officers tortured dozens of suspects over the course of two decades will strengthen other police brutality lawsuits in the city, attorneys said Thursday.

“It gives credibility to what all these people are claiming, that this stuff is real, these kind of third world tactics did happen and in some cases continue to happen,” said Kathleen Zellner, a Naperville attorney who has helped free a number of wrongfully convicted Illinois inmates.

Today, there are five federal lawsuits pending against the leader of the unit that the report said won confessions from suspects after beating them, shocking their genitals with electricity, smothering them with plastic bags and placing guns in their mouths. Four of those were filed by former death row inmates pardoned in 2003 by former Gov. George Ryan.

None of those suing are involved in three cases in which the special prosecutors said there was enough evidence to charge former Lt. Jon Burge and others. In their report, the special prosecutors said Burge and the others could not be charged because the alleged torture occurred in the 1970s and 1980s and the statute of limitations had run out.

But an attorney representing two men who allege in lawsuits against Burge and others that they were tortured say authors’ comments that there was evidence of torture in about half the 148 cases the report examined can only help the lawsuits.

“We’ve been alleging a pattern of torture and this strengthens what’s previously been found in other cases, in other courts and by other investigative agencies,” said Flint Taylor of the Peoples’ Law Center.

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