US Supreme Court divided over USS Cole lawsuit against Sudan

US Navy file photo
US Navy file photo

Reuters reports that US Supreme Court justices have not yet reached a clear consensus on Sudan’s refusal to pay US$314.7 million in damages to those US Navy sailors injured in the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole by al-Qaeda in Yemen on October 12, 2000.

During oral arguments on November 7, Sudan appealed a lower court ruling in 2015 that allowed 15 injured sailors to collect compensation. It contended that it was not properly notified of the lawsuit after the delivery of the claims to its embassy in Washington in 2010.

The Sudanese government asserts that, in adherence to US and international law, the claims should have been turned over to its minister of foreign affairs in the country’s capital of Khartoum.

Sudan has been found liable for the USS Cole bombing in 2012 after a US federal judge citing the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act determined that the country’s allowing Osama bin Laden to live there for a time constituted “material support” for al-Qaeda.

The Sudanese government continues to deny any direct role in the bombing that left 17 American sailors dead and 39 others injured.

The Trump administration has agreed with Sudan, emphasising its own policy on rejecting judicial notices sent to US embassies.

Some justices appeared sensitive to the government’s arguments while others recognised the convenience and other merits of receiving a notice at an embassy.

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