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Iran welcomes Luxembourg court decision on U.S. seizure of Iranian assets

LONDON (Reuters) - Iran welcomed on Thursday a Luxembourg court’s decision to refuse to reinforce a U.S. ruling that would have helped families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks claim Iranian assets held by a Luxembourg-based clearing house.

FILE PHOTO: People read the victims' names of the 9/11 Empty Sky memorial at sunrise across from New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center, in Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, September 11, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

The court ruled on Wednesday that there were no grounds in international law to uphold in Luxembourg a 2012 U.S. court decision to strip Iran of sovereign immunity.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said the decision showed the world still had courts that adopt independent decisions.

“The era of totalitarian and bullying behavior of America toward other countries is over and it can no longer raise such groundless accusations,” Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The governor of Central Bank of Iran, Abdolnasser Hemmati, called the decision “an important legal victory for Iran”.

President’s deputy for legal affairs Laya Joneidi was quoted by IRNA as saying that the lawyers won the case by arguing that Sept. 11 attacks were not related to Iran.

Seven years ago, a New York court found there was evidence showing that Iran provided “material support and resources to al Qaeda for acts of terrorism”. The militant group carried out the hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington.

That court awarded the plaintiffs damages of over $7 billion. Families of victims are seeking access to $1.6 billion of Iranian funds in Luxembourg, which were frozen as part of international sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program.

However, the Luxembourg court said the plaintiffs could not continue their legal case to seize Iranian assets in the country.

Iran has denied any links to al Qaeda or any involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Richard Borsuk