F rom Shurat Hadin - Israel Law Center, December 5, 2005, "JERUSALEM COURT RULES ACHILLE LAURO SURVIVORS' CASE AGAINST THE PLO CAN GO FORWARD "
In a case that was brought against the PLO by two American survivors of the infamous 1985 Achille Lauro cruise liner hijacking, the Jerusalem District Court has denied the Palestinian defendants' motion to dismiss the proceedings. The civil action, which was filed in 2000, seeks compensation from the PLO for damages inflicted on the two women in the course of the three-day attack.
According to the court papers, the Palestinian gunmen who seized the ship in the Mediterranean Sea as it was traveling from Italy to Israel allegedly separated the American and Jewish passengers from the others and threatened to kill them if Israel did not agree to their demands to release Palestinian security prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The two women were held at gunpoint by the terrorists on the ship's outdoor deck throughout the 3-day ordeal. Increasingly desperate, the hijackers announced they were going to execute one hostage immediately, and then the rest at 1-hour intervals if the PLO prisoners were not released. The terrorists took an elderly, wheelchair-bound New Yorker, Leon Klinghoffer, fired several bullets into him, and then threw him and his wheelchair overboard. The murder was carried out in full view of Klinghoffer's wife.
Eventually, the other hostages, including the plaintiffs, were freed by the terrorists. Although the case was brought in Jerusalem 15 years after the hijacking, which was eight years after the expiration of the Israeli statute of limitations, the District Court's ruling permits the case to go forward. The PLO has appealed the decision.
A hearing in the District Court has been set for December 25 th. According to Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner: "The PLO has arrogantly attempted to avoid paying for the criminal acts perpetrated during the Achille Lauro hijacking for over twenty years. Fortunately, the Jerusalem District Court has ruled that the civil action will now go to trial. It’s important that no act of Palestinian terror ever be forgotten and the terror victims know they have a means, even many years later, of fighting back."