Sudan wins Cole bombing lawsuit at U.S. Supreme Court

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The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a victory to Sudan by ruling that American sailors injured in the deadly 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole would not be collecting $314.7 million in damages from the north African country for its alleged role in the attack.

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The attack on October 12, 2000, killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen others, after two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the Navy guided-missile destroyer while it was refueling in the southern Yemeni port of Aden.

In their 8 to 1 decision, American justices overturned a lower court’s decision that had ruled that the sailors shouls collect damages from certain banks that held Sudanese assets in the United States. 

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“The decision represented a major victory for Sudan, which denies that it provided any support to the al Qaeda militant group for the attack in Yemen,” Reuters news agency said, adding that “Sudan was backed by President Donald Trump’s administration in the case”.

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A lower court had levied damages by default because Sudan did not defend itself against allegations that it provided support to the Islamist militant group.

According to Reuters, fifteen of the injured sailors and three of their spouses sued the government of Sudan in 2010 in Washington. 

“At issue was whether mailing the lawsuit to Sudan’s embassy violated the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a U.S. law governing when foreign governments may be sued in American courts.

“The Trump administration had told the justices that a ruling against Sudan could impact how the U.S. government is treated by foreign courts because the United States rejects judicial notices delivered to its embassies” the news agency said, adding that the sailors were highly critical of the administration’s position. 

“Particularly given this administration’s solicitude for veterans, its decision to side with a state sponsor of terrorism, against men and women who are seeking to recover for grievous injuries suffered in the service of our country, is inexplicable and distressing,” they said in a legal brief.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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