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US Supreme Court: Iran bank must pay attack victims

An Iranian bank has hit a major setback in its quest to stop frozen assets from being paid to terrorism victims. The victims in question were targeted by attacks allegedly orchestrated by Tehran.

The US Supreme Court upheld a ruling on Wednesday that will see 2 billion dollars of frozen Iranian assets turned over to relatives of victims of terrorist attacks linked to Iran. In a 6-2 decision, the judges decided against the Iranian central bank and in favor of more than 1,000 family members who have waged a long legal battle to get compensation for violence they claim Tehran orchestrated.

In 2007, a US federal court ruled that Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the relatives of Marines killed in an attack at a barracks in Beirut in 1983, as well as the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which claimed the lives of 19 US service members.

In 2012, the US Congress inserted itself into the issue by passing a law mandating the frozen assets be turned over to the families as part of the settlement. Bank Markazi had already challenged this law once, but a 2014 ruling by a New York appellate court held that Congress has not acted inappropriately.

It was this 2014 decision that the Supreme Court had been asked to review. The Iranian bank alleged that by passing the law, Congress had usurped the authority of American courts.

In the majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the legislation "does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution."

Over the past 20 years, US legislatures have continued to make it easier for victims to file suit against foreign countries over state-sponsored terrorism, but Iran has dismissed the judgments, leaving attorneys to search for Iranian assets held in the United States.

es/ (AFP, Reuters)

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