The family of renowned war correspondent Marie Colvin, who was killed in 2012 while covering the Syrian revolution, has been awarded more than $300 million in damages — which Syria has to pay.
A US District Court judge found the Syrian government at fault late Wednesday night for Colvin’s widely-reported death. The verdict was unsealed in Washington.
“The challenge now is going to be enforcing the judgment,” said Scott Gilmore, lawyer for the Colvin family. “The precedents show that it is possible to recover assets.”
Speaking to reporters, Gilmore called Colvin’s death “an assassination.”
The 56-year-old journalist — who worked for The Sunday Times and wore a signature black eye patch — had been taking on artillery fire inside of an apartment building in the city of Homs when the slaying happened. A French photographer was also killed.
“This wasn’t a stray shell,” Gilmore said. “The overwhelming weight of the evidence concluded that this was essentially an assassination.”
Colvin’s sister, Cathleen, also believes she was taken out.
“It was part of the government’s strategy in putting down the uprising,” she said. “They prioritized taking out the journalists.”
The Colvin family filed their civil lawsuit in US federal court back in 2016. While Syria never actually got involved in the case, President Bashar al-Assad did come forward that year and publicly accuse Colvin — who had her life documented in the 2018 movie “A Private War” — of being at fault.
“It’s a war,” he said, speaking to NBC News. “She came illegally to Syria, she worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she’s responsible of everything that befell her.”
In Wednesday’s ruling, District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the Syrian government had ultimately “engaged in an act of extrajudicial killing of a United States national.”
“A targeted attack on a media center hosting foreign journalists that resulted in two fatalities and multiple injuries … is an unconscionable act.,” she said.
Due to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Syria is technically immune from jurisdiction in US courts. But the act gets waved whenever a crime is deemed a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
Whether she gets paid or not, Cathleen hopes this week’s ruling will get under the skin of Syrian officials — and maybe even President Assad.
“I don’t have any illusions that this will have any effect on Assad’s life,” she said. “Hopefully, this will be some sort of thorn in his side for decades.”
With Post wires
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