Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
Iranian expatriates in the U.S. who sued President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Tehran Islamic regime alleging they suffered torture may seek justice in Spain after a U.S. judge “strained” to find a way to throw out the case.
Judge Beryll Howell heard the case brought by attorney Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch USA on behalf of members of a family that allegedly was tortured in Iran before fleeing to the U.S.
Howell held a trial on the damages that should be assessed against the defendants before changing directions and concluding there was no jurisdiction in U.S. courts for the dispute.
Klayman said that will not stop his clients from continuing to seek justice.
“My clients now will not only move Judge Howell for reconsideration particularly with regard to the Alien Tort Claims Act, and then file an appeal if necessary, but go to the courts in Spain, which have instituted criminal charges under such circumstances,” Klayman said.
Klayman pointed to the case of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet, who was indicted in Spain, arrested, tried and convicted of human rights abuses and crimes.
“It is unfortunate that Spanish courts must now be used to seek justice, while the Obama administration, Republicans, including former President George W. Bush, and now Judge Howell not only have turned a blind eye to justice, but also have failed to support the Iranian freedom movement.”
Klayman said that had the U.S. intervened strategically when the pro-democracy movement was developing in Iran, “this freedom movement could have changed the course of history by eliminating the nuclear threat from this radical Islamic terrorist state.”
The case was brought on behalf of Akbar and Manouchehr Mohammadi, two student leaders who are credited with helping spark the modern secular freedom movement in Iran. Klayman said Akbar and Manouchehr were arrested, brutally tortured and in the case of Akbar, murdered.
“Manouchehr escaped prison, having been incarcerated under a death sentence for seven years. In addition to the brothers, their sisters Nasrin and Simin Mohammadi were parties to the suit, and they were tortured and threatened with death as well – even after the surviving family members moved to the United States and became citizens,” Klayman said.
Earlier in the case, Howell had entered a default against the defendants.
But Klayman said that “inexplicably, after the trial she has now, after several years on her docket, found that her court lacked jurisdiction to enter a default judgment, despite her making very strong findings of fact showing the barbaric sub-human brutality of the defendants.”
“Despite these findings of fact, Judge Howell’s decision strains to let the Iranian regime and its leaders off the hook,” he said. “One wonders whether listening to all of the testimony about how the Iranian regime has agents in this country who have threatened persons who oppose or take actions against it, and have plotted recently to even kill the Saudi ambassador, as well as to bomb a train from Canada to New York City, if the judge got ‘cold feet,’ fearing for the safety of herself and her family if she entered a punitive judgment.”
The judge’s opinion cites the “serious violations of human rights and international law” in the case.
“The entire Mohammadi family has been devastated by the heinous actions of the Iranian regime, and they continue to carry deep emotional and physical scars as a result of those actions,” the judge wrote.
Klayman had submitted evidence for damages in the range of $380 million.
Nasrin Mohammadi and Klayman each made a series of videos talking about the importance of the case.