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Letelier v. Republic of Chile
United States District Court for the District of Columbia
488 F. Supp. 665 (1980)
In 1976, a car bomb exploded in Washington D.C., killing Ronni Moffitt and Orlando Letelier, the former ambassador from Chile. The families of Moffitt and Letelier (plaintiffs) alleged that the Republic of Chile, the Chilean intelligence agency, and certain Chilean officials (defendants) were responsible for the bombing. The families of Moffitt and Letelier brought a lawsuit in the District Court for the District of Columbia, asserting several causes of action under international law, the common law, the Constitution, and legislative enactments. The families of Moffitt and Letelier argued the Republic of Chile could not claim sovereign immunity under Section 1605(a)(5) of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The Republic of Chile argued it was not involved in the deaths of Ronni Moffitt and Orlando Letelier. However, the Republic of Chile argued the drafters of FSIA only intended to contemplate private torts under the terms of Section 1605(a)(5) rather than political assassinations. The Republic of Chile therefore concluded that the District Court had no subject-matter jurisdiction, as it had sovereign immunity under the FSIA.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Green, J.)
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