Washington- A US judge ordered Iran to pay over $10 billion in damages to families of victims who died on September 11, 2001.
The default judgement was issued by US District Judge George Daniels in New York on Wednesday. Under the ruling, Tehran was ordered to pay $7.5 billion to 9/11 victims’ families, including $2 million to each victim’s estate for pain and suffering, and another $6.88 million in punitive damages. Insurers who paid for property damage and claimed their businesses were interrupted were awarded an additional $3 billion in the ruling.
Saudi Arabia was legally cleared from paying billions in damages to families of 9/11 victims last year, after Judge Daniels dismissed claims that the country provided material support to the terrorists and ruled that Riyadh had sovereign immunity. Saudi attorneys argued in court that there was no evidence directly linking the country to 9/11.
In response to the latest ruling, Iran on Monday rejected the US “ridiculous” court ruling that the Islamic republic pay more than $10 billion in compensation over the Al-Qaeda-claimed 9/11 attacks.
“This judgement is so ridiculous… more than ever before, it damages the credibility of the US judicial system,” state television quoted an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
“Such judgements also send a very dangerous message to terrorists and to their supporters: Kill people… not only will we not prosecute, but we will even target your greatest enemies instead,” Hossein Jaber Ansari said.
“We also see the US administration as a partner in such verdicts,” Ansari added.
Tehran’s role in 9/11 has been debated heavily over the years. The 9/11 Commission Report stated that some hijackers moved through Iran and did not have their passports stamped. It also stated that Hezbollah, which the US designates as a terrorist organization supported by Iran, provided “advice and training” to Al-Qaeda members.
In a court document filed in 2011 regarding the latest case, plaintiffs claimed Hezbollah “provided material support” to Al-Qaeda, such as facilitating travel, plus “direct support” for the 9/11 attacks. As a result, the plaintiffs argued Iran was responsible.
While the report suggested further investigation into the issue, President George W. Bush has said, “There was no direct connection between Iran and the attacks of September 11.”