Judge Won’t Dispatch Suit Over Roadside Bomb

     (CN) – The Palestinian Authority must go to trial over the death of an American contractor working in the Middle East in 2003, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein said it is plausible the PA could be found responsible for the death of Mark Parsons, an employee of DynCorp International who was killed, along with two others, by a roadside bomb while escorting a U.S. State Department convoy through the Gaza Strip. Representatives were there to interview Fulbright Scholarship applicants from Palestine.
     Six suspects were interrogated during separate U.S. and Israeli investigations. Amer Qarmout, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, confessed he had dug the hole for the bomb but claimed he did not plant an explosive device, according to Rothstein’s ruling.
     Qarmout said he also asked PA National Security soldiers at a nearby checkpoint to turn the other way while other men planted the device.
     Parsons’ siblings filed suit against the PA and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 2007, citing claims of terrorism under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
     Plaintiffs Mary Lazin, John J. Parsons and Catherine Tyokody allege conspiracy to commit murder of a U.S. citizen and provisional support or resources to a designated terrorist organization.
     Though U.S. District Judge James Robertson granted the defendants summary judgment in 2010, the D.C. Circuit revived the claims against the PA.
     Robertson had said he need not decide whether the defendants provided material support to the attacker since the Parsons failed to raise a triable issue of fact as to who committed the attacks, but the appellate panel it was sufficient for the Parsons to “show that the Palestinian Authority provided material support to whoever directly carried out the attack.”
     The Parsons had not sought to resuscitate its claims against the PLO.
     Judge Rothstein took over the case in November 2012 and resolved the PA’s renewed motion for summary judgment last week.
     Agreeing with the D.C. Circuit, Rothstein said it is not necessary to identify who planted the device, only that there was an agreement at work.
     “An ‘understanding’ between the checkpoint security forces and whoever planted the bomb – that they would not interfere in his actions – are sufficient to raise a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether checkpoint security personnel were provided to whoever planted the bomb,” the ruling states.
     The Parsons wanted to add new charges based on “new theories,” but Rothstein found it too late in the game to require the PA to “consider yet another layer of its defense.”
     Such an order would be “unduly prejudicial” to the PA, according to the ruling.

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