Al-Shabaab militants Flee key town as Somali army Advances
The judgment against Mohamed Ali Samantar, 76, of Fairfax comes at the end of an eight-year legal battle that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Seven Somali natives filed the lawsuit in 2004 in federal court in Alexandria against Samantar, who served as vice president, defense minister and prime minister throughout the 1980s under dictator Siad Barre, until the months before the regime collapsed in 1991.
The suit claimed Samantar personally ordered the killings and torture of members of the minority Isaaq clan.
Samantar denied the accusations and claimed immunity from the lawsuit. On the day the trial was to begin, he entered a default judgment. While he accepted legal liability for the killings, he denied wrongdoing.
One of the plaintiffs, Aziz Deria of Bellevue, Wash., said Tuesday that the ruling vindicates efforts to hold Samantar accountable.
"The case was never about money," said Deria, who has little expectation of recovering his $3 million share of the judgment against Samantar, who is bankrupt. "This case was about having an opportunity to be in court with Samantar and prove he was in charge of what was happening."
Sources say that the United States and Turkish forces based in the capital Mogadishu have bombed Al-Shabaab's defensive bases from the air, which forced the militants to flee.