Iraq Ordered to Pay $13m to Four Americans
A US federal judge has ordered the government of Iraq to pay nearly $13 million in damages to four Americans who were jailed in Baghdad for alleged border infractions, ruling that Iraqi guards illegally seized the men and tortured them, reported the Washington Post newspaper on Wednesday.
Senior US District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer also ordered Iraq to pay $6 million to the men's wives for loss of companionship and psychological trauma.
The ruling marks the first time that Iraq has been ordered to pay damages under a 1996 law meant to “give Americans who are victims of terrorist acts abroad a recourse in the courts.”
But there is no guarantee the families will collect.
Iraq initially hired a legal team that argued the US courts lacked jurisdiction. When the trial went forward, Iraq withdrew its lawyers and lost by default, said the paper.
"I feel very relieved and vindicated," said Kenneth Beaty, 53, a drilling rig supervisor who was detained in April 1993.
"I think it was very important after spending 205 days [in jail], knowing you're a political pawn and had done nothing wrong."
Similar judgments have been returned in recent years against the governments of Iran and Cuba.
Last year, Congress passed legislation providing for the United States to pay more than $200 million to eight families that won antiterrorism judgments against Iran and more than $50 million to three families that won a judgment against Cuba.
US officials have said that they intend to recover money from Iran through negotiations or an international claims tribunal and that they used frozen assets in the Cuban matter, the paper added.
Mohammed Al Douri, Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, did not return a telephone message seeking comment on the ruling when contacted by the Post – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)