The Palestine Liberation Organization has settled a 12-year-old case brought by the family of an American who was killed in his wheelchair and tossed into the sea during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship.
The PLO reached settlements a week ago with the family of Leon Klinghoffer and with a cruise travel company, but all parties agreed to keep the terms of the deals confidential, said Rodney E. Gould, lawyer for Crown Travel Service Inc.
"It was amicably settled," said Lawrence W. Schilling, a lawyer for the PLO. He declined to comment further on the settlement, in which the PLO did not admit to any wrongdoing.
The Achille Lauro was seized in October 1985 off Port Said, Egypt, by Palestinian terrorists who held 413 people aboard hostage for two days until the commandos surrendered to Egyptian authorities.
The agreements, entered into the record in U.S. District Court in Manhattan last Wednesday, ended 12 years of litigation for the Klinghoffer family and Crown Travel Service Inc.
They left everyone "on all sides happy it's concluded," Gould said from his Framingham, Mass., office.
Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, the daughters of Leon Klinghoffer, however, continue to call for the extradition of Mohammed Abul Abbas, the Palestinian convicted in absentia of masterminding the hijacking.
The Klinghoffers filed a lawsuit against the PLO after their 69-year-old father was shot while sitting in his wheelchair and then thrown overboard.
The hijackers were captured and turned over to Italy, which let Abbas slip out of the country before a U.S. arrest warrant could be served. Abbas resurfaced in the Gaza Strip in April 1996 after years of living underground. He called Klinghoffer's death "a mistake."
Gould never obtained a deposition he had sought in the case from PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat despite threats by a federal judge to find the PLO liable and to conduct a hearing on damages if Arafat did not submit.
Arafat was willing to provide it earlier this year but canceled at the last minute because of a problem in the West Bank city of Hebron, Gould said, adding that he suspected the case was finally settled because it was about to go to trial.
In court papers, Crown Travel Service Inc., based in Union, N.J., had argued Arafat "was personally involved in freeing the hostages and indeed boasted about his efforts in that regard."
The travel agency sought damages for its loss of revenue when a three-year package of cruises with the ship had to be canceled after one year.