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US court orders Iran to compensate terror victims

May 21, 2011 17:15

Court awards $600m. to family of man killed in 2003 J'lem bombing, family injured in 1995 Gaza bombing, both carried out by Iran-backed terror groups.

A gavel strikes at the issuing of justice

311_gavel. (photo credit:Ariel Jerozolimski)

NEW YORK – A Washington, DC federal court judge – in two separate rulings – ordered Iran to pay a total of $600 million in punitive damages to families of American citizens murdered and wounded in terror attacks that took place in Israel.

In the first case, in which Hamas claimed responsibility for a 2003 Jerusalem bus-suicide bombing, plaintiffs from the family of Alan Beer, an American citizen killed in the attack, said Iran was legally liable due to having provided financial support to the terror group.

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The second case involved a 1995 Islamic- Jihad bombing of a bus in Gush Katif that killed eight people and wounded dozens of others. American citizen Seth Haim, his father and his brother, all injured in the attack, filed suit in US federal- district court against Iran.

The punitive damages award, decided by US District Judge Royce Lamberth, is largely symbolic.

Lamberth said he was making the awards in the interest of deterring future terrorist attacks. Size restrictions on damages, Lamberth said in his 21-page opinion, should not apply in terrorism cases.

“The court... expresses hope that the sanction it issues today will play a measurable role in changing the conduct of Iran – and other supporters of international terrorism – in the future,” Lamberth said.

To collect Lamberth’s award, their lawyers must find Iranian assets in a country with judges willing to order those assets seized on their behalf, based on Lamberth’s rulings.

Lamberth has ruled similarly in other cases involving Iran. In September of last year, he ordered Iran to pay nearly $92 million to victims of the 1983 suicide bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut.

He ordered Iran to pay the survivors and their relatives a total of more than $30.6 million, as well as nearly $61.3 million in punitive damages to the two plaintiffs who survived the bombing.

“The Court sincerely hopes that the compensatory damages awarded today help to alleviate plaintiffs’ and intervenors’ injuries, and that the punitive damages also awarded inspire Iran to adhere to its professed opposition to terrorism,” Lamberth wrote in last September’s opinion.
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