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Italy court orders Iran assets frozen for Palestinian terror acts against Americans

[JURIST] An Italian court has ordered the freezing of an Iranian government account at a Rome bank at the instance of US plaintiffs claiming compensation for terrorist acts supposedly supported by Iran. Steven Flatow, a New Jersey lawyer whose daughter Alisa [memorial page] was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber on a bus in Gaza in 1995, said that the plaintiffs brought their case to show Iran that it should stop supporting terrorist groups. The other two US families involved in the litigation sought compensation for Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld, an engaged couple killed together by a Hamas suicide bomber on a Jerusalem bus in 1996. The three families were the first to take advantage of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) [text, PDF], which authorizes Americans to file suit for damages against those who the US deems to be sponsors of international terrorism. US courts have already ruled in favor of Flatow, and permitted compensation to be awarded to the families, though the award was limited on appeal [US DC Circuit opinion, text]. Legal experts said the Rome court had adopted the rulings of the US courts and that the decision paves the way for similar cases against Iran in other European and possibly Asian courts. The ruling may also encourage a slew of similar civil cases against Islamic and other regimes that are accused by the US of sponsoring terror. The court was not persuaded by diplomatic protests from Tehran which argued that Iran's official accounts were protected by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [text]. A further hearing is expected to determine how to award the frozen funds. The Financial Times has more.

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