Five U.S. families who were victims of a 1997 Iran-backed suicide bombing in Jerusalem have been awarded $9 million in federal court despite objections from Tehran and the U.S. Justice Department, the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday.
The Nov. 27 ruling in the Southern District of California enables victims to recover $9 million from a U.S.-based defense contractor, Cubic Defense Systems Inc., that worked with Iran.
It was hailed as a precedent-setting case by the victims' legal counsel, the Israel-based civil rights group Shurat HaDin.
"After more than 10 years of litigation in the federal court in San Diego, these victims and their families were awarded a Hanukkah victory against the Iranian Ministry of Defense and will soon actually recover more than $9 million in funds!" said Shurat HaDin in a statement on Monday.
The motion by the 10 claimants -- Jenny Rubin, Deborah Rubin, Daniel Miller, Abraham Mendelson, Stuart E. Hersh, Renay Frym, Noam Rozenman, Elana Rozenman, Tzvi Rozenman, and France M. Rafii -- sought to collect "judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran for personal injuries arising out of the country's terrorist activities," according to the motion.
Seven people were killed and 200 injured in the bombing at the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall.
The victims were initially awarded $70 million in damages by a D.C. court in 2003. They tried to collect part of the settlement through a lien on frozen Iranian funds held by San Diego-based Cubic Defense Systems, which worked with the Iranian government before the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The Iranian Ministry of Defense argued that the collection efforts were a violation of its sovereign immunity as well the Algiers Accords, i
n which Algeria served as an intermediary to resolve the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and free 52 Americans.
The U.S. Department of Justice also filed an amicus brief arguing that the Iranian government was not liable for Cubic Defense Systems assets.
U.S. District Judge Barry Moskowitz said in his Nov. 27 decision, "Having carefully considered the arguments of counsel and the governing law, the court holds that lien claimants are entitled to the relief they seek."
Appeals are pending before the victims can access the money. However, the court ruled that the funds could be transferred into the victims' names.
"While the U.S. and E.U. are rushing out to economically bolster the outlaw regime in Tehran, we and the families we represent do not forgive nor forget the Iranian-funded terror that devastated Israel," Shurat HaDin said.
The million-dollar award comes on the heels of a U.S. nuclear deal with Iran. The agreement has been condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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