Reproduction Photo: AP
Marla Bennett. Killed in 2002 terrorist attack
Reproduction Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Hamas' attack on Hebrew University
Photo: AP

US protects Iran from bereaved family's damages claim

International convention compels United States government to fight parents of student killed in terrorist attack in Israel seeking to seize control of Iranian embassy building

WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice was compelled, under International Law, to protect the Iranian government from a damages claim filed by a couple whose daughter was killed in a Hamas terrorist attack on the Hebrew University in 2002.


The parents of Marla Bennett, 24, who was killed in the attack, motioned for pecuniary compensation by seizing control of Iranian assets in the US that remained there after Tehran and Washington cut off diplomatic relations following the Islamic revolution.


Iran is listed as a terror-sponsoring state and is said to finance Hamas which is included in the international terrorist organizations list. While the US is less than keen to help the Islamic Republic, it is obliged to keep the Iranian embassy building and other Iranian assets under the 1961 Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.


Foreign governments cannot be tried in a US federal court, however Congress has revoked immunity in cases pertaining to terror-supporting countries. Based on this decision, a Washington federal court ruled ex parte that Iran will pay the Bennett family $12 million in compensation.


Property rented out

In order to receive the funds, the family launched efforts to gain control of the Iranian embassy building and other properties Tehran left after cutting ties with Washington.


For years, the US has been renting out the embassy building and using the rent money for maintenance. The Bennetts claimed that the Vienna Convention was not binding in this case as the building ceased from serving for diplomatic purposes since being leased to a third party.


The US government was then forced to protect Iran in court and argued against the Bennett family's takeover of the Iranian asset. Judge Thomas Griffith ruled in favor of the government claiming that the lease helped the US keep the asset according to the convention on the assumption that diplomatic relations with Iran may one day be renewed.



פרסום ראשון: 09.14.10, 09:34
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