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Federal judge rejects Sudan motion to dismiss USS Cole suit

[JURIST] US District Judge Robert G. Doumar of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia [official website] Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss filed by the government of Sudan in a lawsuit brought by families of sailors killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole [JURIST news archive; US DOD inquiry report]. Doumar said the Death on the High Seas Act [text] is likely to apply as it is an "exclusive remedy," and if so, the maximum damages the families could receive would be limited to $35 million. Sudan [JURIST news archive] filed the motion alleging that 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. AP has more.

Earlier this month, Doumar said he was unlikely to grant [JURIST report] the Sudanese government's motion to dismiss, having ruled in 2005 that there was sufficient evidence [JURIST report] for 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 [Cornell Law School backgrounder] 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.

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