Rome Terror Victim Must Wait for Compensation

     (CN) – A woman injured in the 1985 Rome airport terrorist bombing cannot make the U.S. government set aside funds to cover her pending claim against Libya, a federal judge ruled.
     On Dec. 27, 1985, gunmen from a Palestinian splinter group called the Abu Nidal Organization attacked flight terminals in Rome and Vienna, targeting the Israeli airport counters.
     Juliet Sweis, who was 7 years old at the time, was injured in the Rome attack, and suffered “hand grenade shrapnel and concussion injuries to her head, resulting in permanent physical injuries.”
     She joined a 2006 lawsuit against Libya, Buonocore v. Great Socialist People’s Libyan Aeab Jamahiriya, but did not allege any physical injuries in the complaint.
     The case was dismissed after President George W. Bush ordered all pending claims against Libya settled by the U.S.-Libya Claims Settlement Agreement (LCSA).
     Only plaintiffs who had alleged physical injury were later permitted to pursue their claims with the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) and win compensation from a fund created by the LCSA.
     Sweis sought at that point to amend the Buonocore complaint, but her request was denied.
     U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler noted Saturday that Sweis then sought a preliminary injunction “against defendants to ensure the retention of … [the] funds necessary to compensate plaintiff under the Libya Claims Settlement Program.”
     “Sweis claims that she will be irreparably injured if the money is not set aside because ‘it is not known what the U.S. government plans to do’ with the funds that remain after the Commission ‘has confirmed that all claims have been finalized,’ and ‘it is possible that the remaining funds would leave the jurisdiction of the United States while the proceeding is being heard by this Court,'” Kessler wrote.
     The Washington-based judge concluded, however, that “these allegations clearly do not establish a likelihood that Sweis will be irreparably harmed in the absence of an injunction.” (Emphasis in original.)
     Kessler said that Sweis’ motion is premised “on nothing more than fear and possibility.”
     The mere chance the funds may be gone by the time Sweis establishes her legal claim to compensation does not threaten Sweis with irreparable harm, the standard for a preliminary injunction, according to the ruling.
     Sweis has no grounds to claim that the unused funds will be returned to Libya, Kessler added.
     “The government has asserted that it does not know the precise amount of funds that remain, but that the next step would be to ‘consider referring additional categories of claims to the FCSC, including possibly referring ‘claims that were rejected by the FCSC on jurisdictional grounds’ like Sweis’s,” the opinion states. “Thus, there is a ‘possibility that adequate compensatory or other corrective relief will be available at a later date,’ which ‘weighs heavily against a claim of irreparable harm.'”

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