US Judge Holds Iran Liable for Israel Bus Deaths
A US federal judge ordered Iran on Tuesday to pay more than $325 million in damages to the families of two American students killed in a bus bombing in Israel, reported Reuters.
Judge Royce Lamberth said in his ruling that Iran had provided support and resources for Hamas. The group immediately claimed responsibility for the 1996 attack, which killed 23 people, including Americans Matthew Eisenfeld and Sara Rachel Duker, said the agency.
Eisenfeld, 25, a graduate of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, was a student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Israel at the time of his death. Duker, 22, a graduate of Barnard College in New York, was a student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
On February 25th 1996, they boarded a bus in Jerusalem on the way to an archaeological dig in Jordan. A passenger detonated explosives that, at Hamas' direction, he had carried onto the bus concealed in a travel bag, Lamberth said.
The families of the two students sued under a US law that allows Americans who are victims of terrorist acts abroad the right to sue foreign countries in US courts, Reuters said.
As in several previous similar cases, Iran did not respond to the suit. There have been a number of large damage awards in similar previous cases, but so far no money has ever been collected.
Lamberth awarded each of the families $150 million in punitive damages.
"The court finds that a total award of punitive damages equal to three times Iran's annual expenditure in 1996 on terrorism ... will serve to deter future attacks such as the one that killed Sara Rachel Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld," he said.
The judge also awarded more than $26.6 million to the two families for pain and suffering and for other damages, the agency added.
Lamberth noted that the family of Alisa Flatow, a U.S. college student killed in a 1995 bombing in Israel, had been unable to collect any of the $247.5 million he ordered Iran to pay it.
But he predicted that today's judgment would not be an empty victory for the plaintiffs, Reuters said.
"Their courage and steadfastness in pursuing this litigation and their efforts to do something to deter more tragic deaths and suffering of innocent Americans at the hands of these terrorists are to be commended and admired," he said - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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