By Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz Correspondent
An Israeli human rights organization is filing a lawsuit against North Korea over a 1972 terrorist attack at Ben-Gurion airport that left more than 20 people dead and more than 50 wounded, Haaretz has learned.
The attack, known as the Lod Airport massacre, was carried out by three members of the Japanese Red Army on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The victims included 16 Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico and Israeli professor and biophysicist Aharon Katzir.
The lawsuit against North Korea stems from claims it sponsored the PFLP and the Japanese Red Army, providing material support to both organizations and assistance in planning the attack.
The three terrorists arrived on an Air France flight from Paris and drew automatic guns and hand grenades, firing fired randomly at anybody in sight, after their luggage came through baggage claims.
One of the men ran out onto the tarmac, shot passengers disembarking an El Al flight and then killed himself with a hand grenade. A second man was shot by security guards and a third was arrested.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Israeli rights group Shurat HaDin, filed the $30 million lawsuit at a U.S. federal court in Puerto Rico on behalf of 12 of the victims' families.
Preliminary hearings to examine evidence began in Puerto Rico on December 2, 2009. Israeli experts - including the former manager of Lod Airport, and various experts on terrorism - were flown in to testify at the hearings.
The claims were then translated and transferred to North Korean authorities, which, according to Darshan-Leitner, have yet to respond to the charges.
"We are currently waiting for the ruling of the federal judge in Puerto Rico," she said, adding that it might be possible to seize North Korean funds held at U.S. banks if the verdict is in the claimants' favor.
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