Washington, DC, December 17, 2012: A Tel-Aviv based law center has represented two families of American citizens in their successful $338 million lawsuit against the government of Syria. The decision, handed down today in the United States district court for Washington D.C., found that the government of Syria was responsible for providing material support and resources to the Kurdish Workers Party ("PKK"), a terrorist organization designated by the United States State Department.
Chief District Court Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Syria was vicariously liable for the PKK's 1991 kidnapping of a group of American biblical archeologists leading an excavation in Turkey. The Americans, who were searching to discover the location of the remains of the biblical Noah's Ark, were held hostage for 21 days before they finally were able to escape.
The families were represented by attorneys Robert Tolchin of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv. Darshan-Leitner is the director of the Shurat HaDin Law Center.
In today’s ruling, the Court wrote that: “the brutal character of the kidnapping in this case, the significant harm it caused both the hostage plaintiffs and their families, along with Syria’s demonstrated and well known policy to encourage terrorism all merit an award of punitive damages.”
According to Darshan-Leitner: “This is a groundbreaking ruling which finds that Syria was responsible for the crimes perpetrated by the PKK terror organization it sponsors. This ruling also points to an underlying fact: the free world will no longer stand idle while international crimes are committed and it will fight against those rogue regimes which support these heinous acts. Above all, the court found that this kidnapping was brutal and heinous, and involved threats of execution, torture, as well as marches through mountains and dense forests. It is therefore fitting that compensation should be in the millions not in the tens of thousands. These days Syria continues to commit crimes against those who oppose the regime, and Syria will pay.”
For full press release: http://www.israellawcenter.org/page.asp?id=341&show=photo&pn=1306&ref=report
A copy of the district court opinion is at:
A copy of the district court judgment is at:
For more information:
Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center
10 Hata'as St., Ramat Gan 52512
US line: 212-591-0073