Monday, March 24, 2014
Justice - Canadian Court Seizes Iranian Assets To Compensate Terrorism Victims
The U.S.may have felt like it was 'unable' to enforce legal judgments against Iran for terrorist activities, but Canada is refreshingly different.
An Ontario court has ordered the seizure of more than $7 million in Iranian assets to compensate American victims of Iran-sponsored terrorism for judgments they received in American courts. The judgments were the result of court verdicts in America against Iran for the regime's role in training, arming and financing Hamas and Hezbollah.
The American victims and their families were previously awarded damages in US courts but were not allowed collect from any Iranian government assets in the United States. While lawsuits against countries like Iran that sponsor terrorism have been made possible by the "terrorism exception" Congress added to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the U.S. State Department and the Department of Justice routinely attempt to block victims from collecting on the grounds that allowing the assets to be taken "can have a significant, detrimental impact on the conduct of our foreign relations" . They have successfully blocked victims of Iranian backed terrorism from collecting judgments in a number of cases.
However, many countries, including Canada have reciprocity treaties which allow judgments in one country to be valid in another. And Canada's 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. The law strips state immunity in civil lawsuits from countries deemed to be “supporting terrorism.”
The Canadian courts ordered one bank account worth $1.47 million controlled by an Iranian diplomat, and another with a balance of $511,000 controlled by Iran’s charge d’affaires in Ottawa to be seized when evidence established that the funds were actually controlled by the Iranian government.
And two building labeled as 'cultural centers', one in Toronto and one in Ottawa with a combined estimated value of over $5 million will also be sold with vthe proceeds going to the defendants. Bioth building are actually owned by a front group for Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The plaintiffs are Edward Tracy and the family of Joseph Cicippio. Both men were captured and held hostage in Beirut from 1986 to 1991 and both got legal judgments in U.S. courts that they were prevented from collecting against Iranian assets in America. Several other plaintiff including a Canadian dentist who was badly wounded by a Hamas terrorist will also share in the award due to a side deal worked out between the lawyers.
Iran did not contest the case, but the regime responded in the usual vicious fashion against the ruling.
Kudos to Canada for having the courage to rule on the side of justice and decency. Hopefully Canada will set the example for other countries to do the same, including my own.