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Thursday, 27 July, 2000, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
US sued over Sudan strikes
Al-Shifa factory in Sudan
The US said the plant was manufacturing chemical weapons
A Sudanese businessman has announced he will sue the United States Government for $50m in compensation for a cruise missile attack on his pharmaceuticals factory two years ago.

The attack was in retaliation for the bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, in which more than 250 people were killed and which Washington blamed on the Saudi Arabian dissident, Osama bin Laden.

I have never met nor spoken with Mr. Osama bin Laden nor with any agent of his

Salah Idris
At the time, President Bill Clinton said the factory, at El-Shifa near Khartoum, was involved in the production of chemical weapons and was financially linked to Mr bin Laden.

However, the owner, Salah Idris, told a news conference in London he had been able to prove conclusively that there was no substance to such claims.

A BBC correspondent says that last year Washington tacitly admitted that it had no evidence against Mr Idris by lifting a freeze on his bank accounts in the US.

Private detectives

Mr Idris, who describes the assault "an unprovoked attack", issued a statement on Thursday saying that he had never been associated with terrorists.

An undated TV picture of the factory
The owner maintains the factory was only manufacturing pharmaceuticals
He also reiterated his denial that he had any connection with Mr Bin Laden.

"I have never met nor spoken with Mr. Osama bin Laden nor with any agent of his," said Mr Idris, who is Sudanese by birth but a Saudi national.

He became a Saudi citizen after making his fortune in banking in the kingdom.

The lawsuit, which has been filed in Washington, claims the bombing "constituted a 'taking' of private property for public use".

Last year, his lawyers in Washington hired a leading detective agency to conduct an independent investigation into the plant.

The aim was establish a record of facts concerning the previous ownership and the acquisition and management of the plant.

A partner at the law firm, Akin Gump, said the report found that the plant was a legitimate commercial operation, which was wholly engaged in the production of pharmaceuticals for sale on domestic and international markets.

A spokesman for Mr Idris, John Scanlon, said reports that Mr Idris had filed suit last year seeking damages from the US Government were erroneous.

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See also:

06 Aug 99 | South Asia
Osama bin Laden: America's most wanted
26 Aug 98 | Americas
Were the US air strikes legal?
26 Aug 98 | Americas
Clinton statement in full
21 Aug 98 | Africa
Clinton defends military strikes
16 Feb 99 | US strikes
Special report: US strikes
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