Supreme Court to hear Iranian bank appeal over $1.75B judgment in terror case

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The Supreme Court said Thursday it hear an appeal from Iran's central bank over a $1.75 billion judgment awarded to victims of terrorist attacks, including the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines in Lebanon.

The justices agreed to review a ruling from the federal appeals court in New York that said the judgment against Bank Markazi could be distributed to several hundred victims and families of those killed or injured in attacks sponsored by the government of Iran.

The bank had argued that seizing the assets would conflict with treaty agreements between the United States and Iran. The money is in the custody or a court-appointed trustee after President Barack Obama in 2012 ordered Iranian assets blocked, including those of Bank Markazi.

Each family was expected to receive about $5 million after attorney fees.

The bombing was blamed on the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. Lawyers for the victims argued that evidence showed that Iran's late supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and other top leaders ordered, authorized and planned the bombing.

In the early hours of Oct. 23, 1983, a truck carrying more than 2,000 pounds of explosives sped past a guard post and exploded outside the Beirut barracks while many servicemen slept. The Marines killed and wounded in the attack were part of a multinational peacekeeping mission.

The lawsuit against Iran was filed under a 1996 U.S. law that allows Americans to sue nations that the State Department considers sponsors of terrorism for damages suffered in terrorist acts.

The high court is expected to hear arguments this winter in Bank Markazi v. Peterson, 14-770.