Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

$6 Billion Ruling Against Libya In Flight 772 Case

Eighteen years after a Libyan suitcase bomb exploded in the cargo hold of the French airline UTA's Flight 772 over the Tenere Desert in Niger, a U.S. Court has ruled Libya responsible and has assessed $6 billion in damages against Moammar's Desert Playground.

The bombing killed 170 people, 100 less than Libya's Lockerbie undertaking, but it was one of history's largest acts of aircraft terrorism nonetheless. Seven of the dead were Americans, including Bonnie Pugh, the wife of US ambassador to Chad Robert Pugh.

Yesterday's court order by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy follows the judge's ruling last April, in which he found that Libya was directly responsible for the bombing. He based his decision on detailed and mostly undisputed evidence from both the French criminal case as well as information provided by the State Department.

A news release from the law firm winning the case said,
Stuart H. Newberger, the lead lawyer for the victim families and a senior partner at Crowell & Moring, said, “This award proves that the rule of law will always prevail over state-sponsored terrorism. At the end of the day, all 170 victims of UTA Flight 772 will be remembered and honored by this decision. Indeed, it is because of rulings like this that Libya has rejected terrorism and re-joined the civilized nations of the world.”
A complicated statement, that. Is there a bit of a Bush-dig in it? Anti-Bush warriors want the war on terror to be fought in the courts, not on the battlefield, so it's either an odd, or a deliberate, word selection. And I'm not at all sure it was legal decisions that got the Libyans to cower away from terror-sponsorship. I believe seeing us take after their former terrorist-in-residence Osama bin Laden had something to do with it as well.

But it's great news even if the news release isn't well worded, made possible by US law that strips state sponsors of terrorism from the protections normally afforded sovereign states.

If you're interested in Kennedy's 104-page ruling, you'll find it here.

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