Court orders Sudan to pay US for 1998 embassy attacks

by Abdulmumeen S. Yitta

The US Supreme Court has ordered Sudan to pay hundreds of million dollars damages to some victims of the 1998 attacks on US Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The decision, which was made unanimously on Monday May 18, 2020, by the court would only affect those claims brought forward by US nationals, members of the US military, and employees of the US government or embassy contractors.

The decision does not cover Kenyan relatives of embassy workers or private contractors who were injured or who lost their lives in the bombings.

The court, however, stated that whether or not Kenyan nationals would also receive a share of full $4.3 billion in punitive damages awarded by a US judge in 2011 is a matter that would be decided by the US appeals court.

Similarly, the ruling does not cover a separate lawsuit filed by over 2,000 Kenyans victims of the bombing but were not employed by or related to workers at the embassy or for private contracts, and there is no prospect that the courts would consider the lawsuit in the future given the large number of victims in the case.

According to attorney Matthew McGill, representing 567 plaintiffs, including Kenyans who brought the case, “We are deeply gratified that the Supreme Court has validated the right of our clients to receive this measure of compensation.

“We are hopeful that this soon will lead Sudan to reach a just and equitable resolution with its victims.”

Christopher Curran, a US attorney representing Sudan, stated that the estimation was that, of all the full $4.3 billion in punitive damages, only about 20% stand the chance of being affected.

“Sudan looks forward to further proceedings in this continuing litigation while it remains engaged with the United States in negotiations to normalise the bilateral relationship,” Curran said.

The US judicial system though earlier decided that Kenyan family members would be entitled to some of an additional $6 billion in compensatory damages that would be paid by Sudan, but now that’s far from being realistic as Sudan is now being held responsible.

This apparently stands as one of the claims that still make Sudan to be on the US terrorist group list which when removed would grant the nation enormous to the global financial system.

Omar al-Bashir, the former Sudan dictator who was overthrown last year was found by the US to have aided al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden in carrying out the bombing at the embassy.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, however denied Sudan’s involvement in the attack.

In an attempt to settle things with the US, Sudan government is willing to have direct negotiations with the victims of the attack hoping it would be acceptable to the US government.

As eager as Sudan is to settle any legal disputes with the US in relation to the 1998 attack that claimed 212 Kenyan nationals and 12 US citizens, Sudan seems unable to pay billions of dollars it has incurred from the attack due to its enormous sovereign debt.

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