US fails to halt Iran bid to free frozen billions

14th February, 2019 10:44:02 printer

THE HAGUE: An international court Wednesday ruled Iran can proceed with a bid to unfreeze assets in the United States, rejecting Washington’s claims the case must be halted because of Tehran’s alleged support for international terrorism, reports AFP.

Washington had argued that Iran’s “unclean hands”—a reference to Tehran’s suspected backing of terror groups—should disqualify its lawsuit to recover $2 billion in assets frozen by the US Supreme Court in 2016.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague threw out some of the US challenges, and said it had the right to hold full hearings at a later date as to whether Tehran will get the money back.

Chief judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said the UN’s top court “unanimously rejects the preliminary objections to admissibility raised by the United States of America”.

The court also “finds that it has jurisdiction” in the case, Yusuf said at the end of an hour-long reading of the decision.

Washington, however, called the court’s ruling a “significant victory” for America because it threw out a key issue pertaining to Iran’s claims of sovereign immunity.

The case is one in which “the Iranian regime seeks to misuse legal process and distort principles of international law,” the State Department said.