[JURIST] A federal judge ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that Iran must compensate the families of 241 US military personnel killed in the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut [Washington Post backgrounder]. Iran has been blamed for supporting Hezbollah [organization website], the militant group behind the bombing, but the country has denied responsibility. The holding awarded $2.65 billion – the largest such judgment ever awarded by a US court against a foreign country, according to US District Judge Royce Lamberth [JURIST news archive] – to survivors and relatives of the victims and allows them to make a bid for Iranian assets held around the world. The American death toll in the terror attack was the highest recorded prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
State acceptance of liability for terrorist acts is not totally unprecedented; in 2003, Libya agreed to accept responsibility [US DOS press release] for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight 103 [Wikipedia backgrounder] over Lockerbie, Scotland, and compensate victims' families. AP has more.