Judge Awards $466 Million In Lawsuit Against Iran

Associated Press
Friday, January 4, 2008

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 3 -- Iran must pay $466 million to the family of a Los Angeles man who was tortured and executed there a decade ago for spying, a federal court ruled.

The family of Siavash Bayani won by default in U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr.'s Dec. 28 ruling because Iran ignored the legal action and presented no defense. The family must try to collect from a nation that does not recognize the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.

Lawyer Zohreh Mizrahi, who represented the family, said Thursday that she is confident the plaintiffs will be able to collect by seeking Iranian assets frozen in the United States, which has an economic embargo with Iran.

An after-hours call to the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Washington was not answered.

Bayani was an officer in the Iranian air force before the 1979 revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He and his family sought U.S. asylum in 1984 after the Revolutionary Guard Corps began purging military officers.

Bayani became a naturalized U.S. citizen, but in 1995 he returned to Iran to care for his mother, who was terminally ill with leukemia. He was arrested five months later.

According to the lawsuit, Bayani was tortured in prison. Iranian officials contacted the family and offered to get Bayani released in exchange for money. Relatives paid $95,000, but Bayani was tried and hanged in 1997 for spying.

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