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Christic Institute Ordered to Pay $1 Million

February 04, 1989|From Associated Press

MIAMI — A federal judge on Friday awarded nearly $1 million in attorneys fees to a Contra leader, a former CIA official and others who were accused in a civil lawsuit of mounting a guns-for-drugs scheme to aid the Nicaraguan rebels.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in June threw out the $24-million lawsuit filed by the Christic Institute on behalf of journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, saying the plaintiffs failed to prove their case. Defense attorneys then filed a motion seeking to recover damages caused by the lawsuit.

King ruled in their favor again Friday, saying the institute and the plaintiffs would have to pay the defendants $955,000 in attorneys fees and $79,500 in court costs.

He said the suit was "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no first-hand knowledge."

Among the defendants in the suit were Adolfo Calero, a civilian leader of the Contras, and Iran-Contra figures Richard V. Secord and Albert A. Hakim, and former Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub.

Daniel Sheehan, a lawyer for the Washington-based Christic Institute, a liberal public-interest legal services group, called the order a "legal disgrace" and said it provided further evidence of King's bias in the case. "Obviously, we are going to appeal this," he said.

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