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Estate of Bayani v. Islamic Republic of Iran

November 19, 2007

ESTATE OF SIAVASH BAYANI, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

This action is brought pursuant to the "terrorism exception" to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), 28 U.S.C. §1605(a)(7), and arises from the detention, torture, and execution of Siavash Bayani, a naturalized American citizen, in 1997. Plaintiffs are Fatemeh Bayani, Siavash's widow and the executor of his estate who brings this action on behalf of the estate and on her own behalf, and their children, Banafsheh Bayani and Babak Bayani. Defendants are the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ali Akbar Fallahian Khuzestani, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The default of defendants was entered on February 4, 2005. On July 9-11, 2007, this court conducted a bench trial to receive evidence regarding plaintiffs' claims. Based on the evidence presented at the trial and the record of this case, the court makes the following findings of fact:

I. FINDINGS OF FACT

A. BACKGROUND

1. Siavash Bayani and Fatemeh Bayani were born and married in Tehran, and subsequently had two children, Banafsheh and Babak Bayani, who were born respectively on May 3, 1968 and August 26, 1974. Siavash was born on August 1, 1937, and Fatemeh was born on November 24, 1945.

2. When Siavash and Fatemeh began their life together, Iran was a monarchy headed by Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

3. After completing his studies in Iran and the United States, Siavash became an officer in the Iranian Air Force. He was a radar operator and was stationed at the Central Radar base in Tehran for fourteen years.

4. In 1977, he was sent to the United Sates as a Liaison Officer, where he supervised Iranian students studying at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His wife and two minor children accompanied him, and they were in the United States in 1979 when the Islamic Revolution ousted the Shah's regime and a new government for Iran was established.

5. When Siavash returned to Iran in 1979, he was able to keep his military rank, but under the new government he had far less authority and his duties consisted primarily of training and teaching.

6. Soon after the Iran-Iraq War in 1981, the Iranian government began purging the military of those officers who had served under the Shah's government. Soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, under the direction of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, began rounding up and executing the top military officers who had served under the Shah's regime.

7. Many officers were summarily arrested and executed systematically based on their rank.

8. In 1984, fearing that his arrest and execution were imminent, Siavash and his family left Iran, ostensibly to seek medical treatment for Babak in the United States, and they subsequently applied for and were granted asylum.

9. The family lived briefly in Philadelphia and later moved to Los Angeles, California, where Siavash worked as a maintenance repairman at a local Holiday Inn.

10. Thereafter, sometime in 1990, he was hired by the Litton Corporation, where he worked in the replacement parts department.

11. In 1994, Siavash's mother became gravely ill and was in dire need of immediate medical care for leukemia.

12. Because the Iranian government at this time was promoting and encouraging the return of expatriates, Siavash made inquiries of old colleagues and friends in Iran to determine whether it would be safe for him to return to Iran to attend to his ailing mother.

13. On October 20, 1994, Siavash and Fatemeh became naturalized United States citizens.

B. EVENTS LEADING TO THE DETENTION, TORTURE, AND EXECUTION OF SIAVASH BAYANI

14. In early 1995, Siavash received a letter from a friend he had contacted in Iran informing him that the Iranian government was giving amnesty to all those who served in the military under the Shah's regime. The friend assured Siavash that he could safely return, without fear of government reprisals, and reclaim his home that had been confiscated by the Iranian government in his absence.

15. Siavash and Fatemeh returned to Iran on February 2, 1995. Upon arriving in Iran, Siavash and Fatemeh, both of whom carried United States and Iranian passports, informed government officials that they were United States citizens and displayed their passports.

16. After a lengthy inspection and interview, Fatemeh's passports were returned to her and she was permitted to travel without restrictions. Siavash's passports and all of his other identification documents, however, were confiscated and he was advised that he was subject to a routine secondary inspection. He was asked to provide an address where he could be contacted while in Iran, but he was not told when or how he could retrieve his passports.

17. While taking care of his terminally ill mother, Siavash began contacting friends and old colleagues in an attempt to find employment in Iran. He was told repeatedly by potential employers that it would be dangerous for them to hire him, given his connections to the Shah's regime and the United States. Moreover, he was warned that he was not safe and that he should return to the United States as soon as possible.

18. One day, after being in Iran a little more than five months, Siavash returned from a job interview and told his wife to return to the United States immediately. He did not give a detailed explanation but informed her ...


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