High court limits suits under torture victim law

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The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that organizations may not be sued for claims they aided in torture or killings abroad under a law aimed at helping torture victims.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the court's opinion dismissing the lawsuit filed by the family of an American who died in the custody of Palestinian intelligence officers in Jericho in 1995. The family wanted to sue the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization under the Torture Victim Protection Act.

Sotomayor said the 1992 law's use of the word "individual" is persuasive evidence that only people may be sued over claims they took part in torture.

The court has already said that a second case over another, older law that has been used by torture victims won't be decided until next year.

The sons and widow of Azzam Rahim filed their lawsuit after Rahim's death while on a visit to the West Bank. The Palestinian-born Rahim was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was beaten and died in the custody of the Palestinian authorities. Three officers were jailed for their role in the case, according to a State Department report.

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