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Federal judge allowing USS Cole lawsuit against Sudan to go to trial

[JURIST] US District Judge Robert G. Doumar has said that he will not grant the Sudanese government's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by families of sailors killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [Wikipedia backgrounder; US DOD inquiry report]. Although he has not issued a formal ruling on the issue, Doumar said during a hearing Thursday to determine which country's laws will govern the dispute that he would allow the case to proceed to trial. Sudan [JURIST news archive] has urged the court to dismiss the case because the complaint does not directly connect any Sudanese official to al Qaeda, the terrorist network largely held responsible for the attack, and also does not directly connect al Qaeda to the bombing. Sudan has also argued that the US federal court does not have proper jurisdiction over the case.

Doumar ruled in 2005 that there was sufficient evidence [JURIST report] to allow the families to pursue the lawsuit. The families allege that Sudan helped finance the attack and allowed an al Qaeda operative to ship explosives to Yemen. Sudan cannot claim sovereign immunity in the suit under the general terms of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] because it is subject to an amendment contained in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 [text] exposing US-defined state sponsors of terrorism [US State Department list] to potential liability. AP has more.

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