Sudan: We are not paying, yet, for bombings

Saturday May 23 2020

US Embassy in Nairobi after the 1998 terror attack that left more than 200 dead. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Sudan’s decision on compensating victims of 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Dar es Salaam will only be made after another court ruling.

Sudanese Ministry of Justice said the ruling by the US Supreme Court on Monday did not confirm demand for more compensation to the plaintiffs under state law.

The US Supreme Court re-imposed 2011 lower court award to plaintiffs of $10.2 billion in damages, which included $ 4.3 billion as punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to deter further wrongdoing.

The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that the ruling is a reinstatement of a lower court decision that had “refrained from commenting on the validity of imposing punitive compensation under state law on the government of Sudan.”

‘Wrong’ law
Khartoum had appealed the decision, which was overturned in 2017, arguing the lower court had used a law passed after the fact.

Before the bombings, foreign countries could not be sued in US courts for punitive damages. However, such a law now exists, especially for countries such as Sudan that have been listed as state sponsors of terror.


The bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam killed 224 people. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility and Sudan was fingered for aiding its then leader Osama bin Laden and other militants to cross into Kenya.

Khartoum has argued that the size of the various compensation figures awarded by the court to plaintiffs under state law represents the largest portion of the total compensation amount that the court ruled in similar cases. That means $ 7.5 billion of the total amount of $ 10.2 billion in comprehensive compensation, including punitive damages and compensation for losses.

On Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled Khartoum could not avoid paying compensation for the bombing of the two embassies.

Eight judges voted unanimously to overturn a lower court decision of 2017 that pardoned Sudan of disciplinary damages set, unlike about $ 6 billion in other compensation.

This case depended on the opinion of the Supreme Court in a 2008 amendment of a federal law known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that allows disciplinary compensation.

In 1993, Washington included Sudan as a sponsor of terrorism because the Brotherhood harboured Osama bin Laden.