WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a former top official in Somalia who was ordered to pay $21 million to Somali victims of human-rights abuses.
The justices did not comment Monday in letting stand lower court rulings against Mohamed Ali Samantar, who now lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington. He had previously been a top official in dictator Siad Barre's regime in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Federal courts found that Samantar could be held liable for orchestrating a campaign of torture and killings and rejected claims that he should be immune because he was an official of a foreign government.
The Obama administration had argued that Samantar was not immune from suit.
Among other things, the civil judgment holds Samantar responsible for the killings of family members of Aziz Deria, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Deria described himself as the "happiest man alive today" after learning of the Supreme Court's decision, which caps a 10-year legal battle.
"Mr. Samantar has been playing legal games with the United States justice system for years now. However, regardless of those games, I trusted the United States justice system and knew that justice will prevail," said Deria, who now lives in the Somali city of Hargeisa but lived for many years in Washington State and Canada, in an emailed statement. "I hope we the Somali-speaking people can learn something from this long but victorious process."