Feb. 25, 2014 – To recognize a victory of the independent judicial process over international terrorism, the Federal Litigation Section of the Federal Bar Association and the Southern District of New York Chapter have hosted the presentation of FBA Presidential Citations and Rule of Law Awards at the federal district courthouse in Manhattan.
Acting on directions from the highest levels of the government of Iran, in September 1992 a team of assassins murdered four dissident Iranians meeting at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, Germany. There followed a sustained diplomatic and political effort in Tehran and Bonn to prevent the terrorists from being brought to justice in Germany. Ignoring those efforts, Chief Federal Prosecutor Alexander von Stahl and lead prosecutor Bruno Jost persevered for three years in bringing the case to trial and verdict of guilty. Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian made the dramatic story known in journalistic detail.
Now, FBA President Gustavo A. Gelpi has issued Presidential Citations to von Stahl and Jost, in recognition of their “faithful adherence to the rule of law and exemplary service in a significant case, in the highest and best traditions of the legal profession.” At a crowded courthouse ceremony, Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska welcomed the honorees with remarks tracing the American tradition of a society ruled by laws, not by men. U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert presided over a lively discussion by Hakakian and former U.S. Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel, who spoke and answered audience questions about the lasting impact of the “Mykonos case.” FBA litigation section Chair Robert E. Kohn presented the Presidential Citations, together with the first annual Rule of Law Awards, issued by the section and the Southern District of New York Chapter.