U.S. Supreme Court Backs $10 Billion Award to Sudan Bomb Victims
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands more, saying Sudan could be held liable for both punitive and compensatory damages.
The ruling on Monday leaves Sudan exposed to a $10.2 billion judgment delivered by a federal court in 2012, which was partially overturned on appeal.
The 2014 appellate ruling determined that a 2008 law that allowed compensatory damages to be applied retroactively to cases involving state sponsors of terrorism didn’t extend to punitive damages. Accordingly, it cut $4.3 billion from the judgment.
In its unanimous ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court said it was clear that Congress intended the 2008 law to compensate victims and punish wrongdoers. The opinion will allow foreign nationals who worked for the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to pursue the full amount awarded in 2012.
“The Supreme Court has reaffirmed Sudan’s guilt and the basic American principle that the value of a life is not dependent on where a person is born,” Doreen Oport, who worked in the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and was badly injured in the attack, said in a written statement.
During arguments before the Supreme Court in February, the Trump administration weighed in on behalf of the victims, shifting course from its stance in previous terrorism cases, when the administration declined to support civil suits brought by victims.
Sudan’s transitional government, which took power after the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year, said it would remain engaged in negotiations with the U.S. to settle the issue.
The North African nation will “work to fully normalize relations between the two countries in order to completely free the Sudanese people from one of the heaviest legacies of the defunct regime,” the Justice Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run SUNA news agency.
The case is Opati v. Republic of Sudan (17-1268).
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