WASHINGTON A federal judge in Washington has ordered Libya and six of its officials to pay more than $6 billion in damages to families of seven Americans killed in the 1989 bombing of a French airliner, lawyers for the families said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The case stems from the suitcase bombing of a French UTA flight over the West African country of Niger, which killed 170 people on a flight from N'djamena to Paris.
The UTA attack was blamed on Tripoli and France convicted six Libyans in absentia.
"The estates of the seven United States citizens who perished aboard UTA Flight 772 are entitled to recover the present value of the economic losses resulting from their wrongful deaths, including wages, benefits and retirement pay over their life expectancy," U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy wrote in a memorandum outlining the compensation to be awarded to the families.
Kennedy ruled in April 2007 that Libya was directly responsible for the UTA 772 bombing. A trial was held in August to determine the amount of damages Libya and its officials must pay the families and the owner of the airliner.
"This award proves that the rule of law will always prevail over state-sponsored terrorism," said Stuart Newberger, a lawyer for the victims' families.
"It is because of rulings like this that Libya has rejected terrorism and rejoined the civilized nations of the world," Newberger added.
Libya has not said whether it will appeal the court order, but has until February 25 to decide, the statement said.
Libya ended decades of international isolation in 2003 when it agreed to halt a weapons program prohibited by the United Nations and pay compensation for the bombing of a U.S. airliner over Scotland in 1988 in which 270 people were killed.
The following year it signed a similar deal over the September 1989 bombing of UTA Flight 772 and has paid millions of dollars in damages to the European and African victims of the attack.
(Writing by Joanne Allen, editing by Chris Wilson)