(CN) – Museums possessing Iranian artifacts that could be used to pay a $71.5 million judgment against the Iranian government for indirectly funding a suicide bombing can’t intervene to block the items from being sold, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled.
Nine U.S. citizens were injured in a 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem, which was reportedly carried out by Hamas.
U.S. District Judge Richard Urbina issued a $71.5 million default judgment against Iran after determining that it had indirectly sponsored the terrorist attack and had provided funding to Hamas. Iran did not respond at any stage of the proceedings.
After the award, Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act, which allowed victims of state-sponsored terrorism to sue foreign countries.
The Act allowed the victims of the 1997 bombing to claim property owned by Iran to satisfy the judgment.
The plaintiffs filed a motion to collect Iranian artifacts from the University of Chicago, the Field Museum of Chicago, Harvard College and the Museum of Fine Arts in Massachusetts.
While their request was pending, the museums wrote a letter opposing the motion, but did not move to intervene until two weeks after Urbina granted the plaintiffs’ motion.
Judge Urbina deemed the motion untimely, saying the museums should have intervened before a ruling was issued.
“In this case, the Museums were aware long before the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion in June 2008 that their interests were implicated in these proceedings,” he wrote.