SCOTUS to rule on Iran compensation to terror victims

Supreme Court to decide whether Persian artifacts in Chicago museums can be seized as compensation for victims of a terror attack in Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

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Iranian flag
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide on a long-running legal battle over whether Persian artifacts in Chicago museums can be seized as compensation for victims of a terror attack in Israel, AFP reported.

The court will have the final word in the case between Iran and five American citizens, who blame the Islamic Republic for its support of the Hamas terrorist group.

The case revolves a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that was carried out by Hamas. Five U.S. citizens injured in that attack won a $71.5 million civil judgment against Iran because it provided material support and training to Hamas.

But a federal appeals court in Chicago later ruled that artifacts being kept at the Field Museum and at the University of Chicago were immune to seizure and therefore could not be used as compensation for the victims.

Among the artifacts were a collection of 2,500-year-old clay tablets bearing ancient cuneiform script which have been in the care of the University of Chicago since the 1930s, according to AFP.

The victims also sought to seize a collection of artifacts at the Field Museum which were purchased in 1945 from German archeologist Ernst Herzfeld.

Iran does not claim ownership of the collection, but the victims have argued that they do in fact belong to Iran because Herzfeld stole them and smuggled them out of the country.

The Supreme Court will hear the case in its next annual session beginning in October.

Victims of terror attacks in Israel have in the past had some success in lawsuits in the U.S.

In January, a U.S. court ruled that Iran and Syria must pay the parents of a baby murdered in a terror attack a sum of $178 million.

The terror attack in question happened in 2014 at a Jerusalem light rail station, when a Hamas terrorist rammed his car into the stroller of baby Chaya Zissel Braun, who was then only three months old. The baby and another woman at the scene were murdered. Chaya’s father, Shmuel, was seriously injured in the attack.

In 2015, a court found the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) liable for encouraging and inciting terror attacks during the Second Intifada, ordering the PA to pay $665 million to victims of terror attacks during that time period.



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