U.S. District Court: Cuba Must Pay $166M To Colombian Terrorism Victims

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The Castro regime is having a very bad couple of weeks.

This sets a very important legal precedent.

From Law 360:

Cuba Must Pay $166M To Colombian Terrorist Victims

A Washington, D.C., federal court has granted a $166 million default judgment against the Cuban government for its support of Colombian rebels who captured, tortured and held for ransom for five years three U.S. contractors and killed another.

Federal Judge Amit P. Mehta awarded $44.7 million to each of three surviving contractors from a narcotics surveillance flight shot down in 2003 by the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia, FARC for its Spanish acronym, in addition to $12 million in damages for the widow of a fourth contractor executed immediately after the crash, and $5 million for each of his four children under the State Sponsors of Terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

“The court has little trouble concluding that Cuba provided the FARC with the materials, training, and resources necessary to carry out these batteries — the aircraft sabotage and physical torture — and that it did so with intent to harm these plaintiffs. Cuba intentionally provided support to the FARC over a number of years and encouraged the FARC to use violence to promote its political agenda,” the decision states.

Cuba’s communist government provided funding, training, weapons and facilitated the drug trafficking efforts of the FARC for decades leading up to the downing of the counter-narcotics operation, and throughout the captivity of Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howe, civilian contractors participating in the operation on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, according to the opinion.

Stansell, Gonsalves and Howe were forcibly marched through the Colombian jungle under the weight of injuries and heavy chains for five years after their flight was shot down by FARC rebels, hoping to exchange the prisoners for concessions from the Colombian government, according to court documents.

During that period, the rebels starved the contractors, forced them to eat rotten and gasoline-tainted food, withheld medicine for the many ailments they suffered as a result of their conditions and even operated to remove a “baseball-sized” cyst from the hip of one hostage with no anesthetic. They also subjected the contractors to psychological torture, including prolonged periods of force isolation and silence, and “dry firing” unloaded weapons at them to simulate executions.

Tom Janis, the former Delta Force pilot of the flight was executed, along with Colombian national Luis Alcides Cruz, at the site of the crash.

Stansell, Gonsalves and Howe filed suit against Cuba in 2015 under the State Sponsors of Terrorism exception to the FSIA, which allows U.S. courts to hear civil suits against states for damages resulting from terrorist acts with foreign government support.

The suit was served to the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, the government, which is currently in the process of restoring diplomatic relations with the U.S., after the countries severed ties in 1961. The Cuban government, however, gave no response, and the plaintiffs requested summary judgment in January.

The parties could not immediately be reached for comment.

The case is Stansell et al v. Republic of Cuba, case number 1:15-cv-01519, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.