U.S. top court backs Sudan over American sailors in USS Cole bombing case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prevented American sailors injured in the deadly 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole from collecting $314.7 million in damages from the government of Sudan for its alleged role in the attack.

In a 8-1 ruling, the justices overturned a lower court’s decision that had allowed the sailors to collect the damages from certain banks that held Sudanese assets.

In the ruling, the justices agreed with Sudan that the lawsuit had not been properly initiated in violation of U.S. law because the claims were delivered in 2010 to the African country’s embassy in Washington rather than to its minister of foreign affairs in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

“Sudan is pleased with the decision,” said Christopher Curran, who represented Sudan’s government in the case. “No one disputes that the sailors on the Cole were the victims of a brutal terrorist attack. But Sudan vehemently disputes any culpability in that attack, and is determined to clear its name.”

A lawyer for the sailors, Kannon Shanmugam, expressed disappointment. “The fight for justice for the Cole victims and their families continues,” Shanmugam said.

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

The Oct. 12, 2000, attack killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen others when two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the Navy guided-missile destroyer as it was refueling in the southern Yemeni port of Aden, blasting a gaping hole in its hull. The vessel was repaired and later returned to full active duty.

Fifteen of the injured sailors and three of their spouses sued Sudan’s government in 2010 in Washington.

Source: National News Agency

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