US suits against ISI chief in Mumbai massacre case face ’serious legal obstacles’

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NEW YORK - The plaintiffs in two US lawsuits, accusing the chief of Pakistan’s main spy agency- the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)- of nurturing terrorists involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, would have to overcome serious legal obstacles, according to lawyers and experts.

A lawyer for the US plaintiff, John Kreindler, expressed the hope of winning a deal like the 1.5-billion-settlement struck with Libya over the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“The hope is to obtain appropriate compensation, but we also see it as a chance for the US and Pakistan to join together and condemn terrorism,” the Daily Times quoted Kreindler, as saying.

“I think our chances are very good… We wouldn’t be doing it if it was simply for show,” he added.

But according to experts, the US court could find that ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, as a high-ranking foreign official, is protected by sovereign immunity. Even when not protected, many international defendants do not bother to respond to summons, and as a result, never see the inside of an American courthouse or engage in settlement negotiations.

“Lawsuits like this aren’t highly successful,” said John F Murphy, a professor at Villanova University School of Law in suburban Philadelphia. “Decisions that have been favourable to the plaintiffs have been largely symbolic.”

Lawyer Athar Minallah said that with the US court’s jurisdiction in question, he could not see the litigation getting very far.

“Why should they even bother to respond?” questioned Minallah, referring to Pasha and the ISI.

The lawsuits were filed last month in a federal court in Brooklyn by relatives of the 2008 Mumbai attack victims. The assault, which left 166 people dead, has been blamed on the banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, which has also been named as a defendant.

The lawsuits repeat the long-standing allegations that the ISI “has long nurtured and used international terrorist groups”, including LeT.

“Defendant ISI provided critical planning, material support, control and coordination of the attacks” by a roving band of gunmen, who attacked a Jewish community centre, a popular restaurant and tourist hotels in Mumbai, allege the lawsuits. (ANI)

Filed under: Lawsuit, World

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