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U.S. judge dismisses case over Egypt hotel bombing

General view of the damaged outdoor restaurant of the Taba Hilton, on Egypt's border with Israel, October 9, 2004, after a truck bomb sheared off a big chunk of the hotel on Thursday. REUTERS/Ofer Vaknin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge dismissed a lawsuit on Monday filed against the Hilton Hotel chain by victims of the 2004 bombing of the Hilton Taba Hotel in Egypt.

The plaintiffs included 157 Israeli and Russians who were either guests or relatives of those who died when a vehicle laden with explosives was driven into the hotel’s lobby in the Sinai town of Taba.

They sued Hilton Hotels Corp in 2006, seeking damages after claiming the hotel’s security was inadequate.

In October 2004, bombings at three sites on the east coast of the Sinai peninsula killed 34 people. The Egyptian government said the mastermind was Palestinian and the targets appeared to be Israeli tourists.

U.S. District Judge Peter Leisure ruled that the plaintiffs had no connection to the United States and much of the evidence would be found in Egypt or Israel, including testimony from Egyptian police.

The judge said Egypt or Israel would be a better forum for the claims as many victims received medical treatment in Israel and much of the evidence is in Hebrew or Arabic.

“This dispute is more appropriately adjudicated in either Egypt or Israel,” he said.

The plaintiffs had argued they did not want the case to be heard in Egypt as they would not receive a fair trial as there was “pervasive and virulent anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli bias that permeates Egypt,” according to court papers.

Hilton has said it preferred the case to be heard in Egypt and pointed to Israeli and American tourists who have traveled to Egypt since the bombing to refute claims of hostility. A Hilton spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Michelle Nichols and John O’Callaghan