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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 20:56 GMT 21:56 UK
Sudan 'must pay USS Cole victims'
USS Cole after attack, October 2000
The suicide bombing tore a large hole in the hull of the USS Cole
A US court has ordered Sudan to pay $8m (4m) to the families of 17 marines who died in a suicide bomb attack on the USS Cole warship in Yemen in 2000.

Robert Doumar, a Virginia federal court judge, said there was enough evidence that Sudan had helped al-Qaeda, the terrorist group blamed for the attack.

Sudan has denied any links with al-Qaeda and made several unsuccessful attempts to have the case dismissed.

A lawyer for the families said he was "thrilled" with the court's decision.

The families of the victims had initially sued the government in Khartoum for $105m.

'Emotional losses'

In a written ruling, the judge said: "It is depressing to realise that a country organised on a religious basis with religious rule of law could and would execute its power for purposes which most countries would find intolerable and loathsome."

Judge Doumar awarded the families compensation under the Death on the High Seas Act, which permits payouts for economic losses but not for mental suffering.

He calculated the amount they should receive by multiplying the salary of the sailors by the number of years they would have continued to work.

"It is a further tragedy that the laws of the United States, in this instance, provide no remedy for the psychological and emotional losses suffered by the survivors," the judge added.

Financial support

Andrew Hall, a lawyer for the families, said overall he was "thrilled" with the ruling.

But he told the Associated Press news agency he intended to appeal to try to win the families compensation for their pain and suffering.

Lawyers for the families are now responsible for collecting the money from Sudanese assets frozen in the US.

Seventeen US sailors died and 39 more were injured in the attack off the coast of Yemen.

The families argued in court that the Sudanese government gave financial and technical support to al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden.

This, they said, allowed the group to establish training bases, run businesses and even use Sudanese diplomatic passports to carry explosives.

The Sudanese government insists there is no link between it and al-Qaeda - a view backed by one recent US government report.


SEE ALSO
Sudan 'liable for USS Cole bomb'
15 Mar 07 |  Americas
Yemen 'catches al-Qaeda fugitive'
12 May 06 |  Middle East
USS Cole bombers sentenced to death
29 Sep 04 |  Middle East

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