A New York federal judge ruled Tuesday in favor of a lawsuit filed by the families of 9/11 victims, ordering Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the parents, spouses, siblings and children of over 1,000 victims of the attacks, ABC News reported.
The lawsuit, filed in 2004, accused Iran of providing “assistance, including training, to the 9/11 hijackers.” It was initially barred from proceeding because of limitations imposed on the ability of U.S. courts to rule against foreign governments.
In 2016, the suit was finally allowed to go forward after Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which allowed country’s accused of terrorism to be open to liability. The bill was passed by Congress after overriding a veto from President Barack Obama.
Southern District Court Judge George Daniels found the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp liable for the deaths of 1,008 people whose families sued.
The payout equates to “$12,500,000 per spouse, $8,500,000 per parent, $8,500,000 per child, and $4,250,000 per sibling,” according to a court filing.
However, according to ABC News, “the judgment is largely symbolic.”
“Iran has never responded to the lawsuit and is unlikely to ever pay,” ABC explained.
Although Iran may never pay, “the order does make the families eligible to collect from a small fund of seized Iranian assets that has been used in the past to compensate families of victims of Hezbollah attacks and other violence attributed to Iran.”
The judge’s ruling is part of a larger case against Saudi Arabia being pursued by the families of 9/11 victims.
“In December 2011, a New York federal court held a hearing and found that the evidence presented established that Iran’s provision of material support to al-Qaeda was a cause of the 9/11 attacks and the resulting damage, injuries, and deaths,” said attorney Robert Haefele, who represents the plaintiffs.
“It is difficult for those injured or left behind to ignore the findings of the federal court about Iran’s culpability,” Haefele continued.
“But those findings should not overshadow the mountain of evidence presented against Saudi Arabia, which remains central to the plaintiffs’ case.”
A lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia in 2003 accuses the Saudi government of knowingly assisting hijackers who carried out the attacks and of fueling al Qaeda’s development into a terrorist organization.
Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the attacks.
“The 9/11 families aren’t going anywhere,” said Brett Eagleson, whose father died in the attacks. “We had my dad’s grandchildren in the audience today who want to know the truth about what happened to their grandfather.”
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