Immunity of Central Bank of Iran in Italy

An Italian court rejected a lawsuit filed by American plaintiffs over seizure of the bank’s assets in the country worth $5.99 billion, declaring that There are no grounds in international law to uphold in Italy a 2012 U.S. court decision to strip Iran of sovereign immunity.
Immunity of Central Bank of Iran in Italy
Date :1/28/2020
Under a fundamental principle in international law called state immunity, claims against a sovereign state must be pursued either in accordance with mechanisms provided for in bilateral or multilateral agreements or through international courts or tribunals, as appropriate. 

The legal dispute centers on a 1976 law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which generally shields foreign governments from liability in American courts but carves out certain exceptions (Terrorism Exception to Immunity: Flatow Amendment), including for claims against countries like Iran.

On this subject seven years ago (2012), a New York court said there was evidence to show that Iran provided “material support and resources to Al-Qaeda for acts of terrorism”. The militant group carried out the horrific terror attacks in New York and Washington. The victims’ families persuaded the court to hold Iran guilty for allegedly aiding the attacks by Al-Qaeda by “facilitating the travel of Al-Qaeda members through its territory.” That court awarded the plaintiffs damages of over $7 billion. Iran has denied any links to Al-Qaeda or involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks in which nearly 3,000 people died.  

The victims’ families (families of the victims of attacks on New York City's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001) filed case for seizure of the the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) assets in Italy. The Italian court first issued an order on June 14, 2018, on the confiscation of the CBI assets in the country. Through “adept local lawyers” the CBI appealed the ruling, which was accepted by Rome’s Court of Appeal.  After that, the appeal court issued a verdict on October 10, 2018 nullifying the previous order. Plaintiffs filed another case for seizure of the CBI assets only to be thrown out again by the Italian court on April 17, 2019. The ruling was again appealed by the plaintiffs, but the appeals court rejected the objection on January 10, 2020, an outcome the CBI sees as an achievement.

Formerly the Luxembourg court had dismissed these victims’ families Lawsuit against CBI. This court said the plaintiffs could not continue their legal case to seize Iranian assets in the country.

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