Sudan ordered by US Supreme Court to pay for 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi

1998 US Embassy bombing in Kenya. [Photo]

Sudan will have to pay victims of 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam to a tune of Ksh1.2 trillion, the US Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The unanimous decision by the US apex court will only cover US nationals, military personnel of American origin, American employees working at the embassy and contractors working at the embassy.

However, private contractors and Kenyans whose relatives worked at the embassy have been exempted from the punitive damages pay.

212 Kenyans died while 12 US nationals also died as a result of the attack. Ten Tanzanians lost their lives too during the twin bomb attack.

During the ruling, the Supreme Court said that the US Appeals Court should give direction on if Kenyan nationals are part of the $4.3 billion awarded by a US judge in 2011. 

“But having decided that punitive damages are permissible for federal claims and that the reasons the Court of Appeal offered for its contrary decision were mistaken, it follows that the Court of Appeal must also reconsider its decision concerning the availability of punitive damages for claims proceeding under state law,” Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Neil McGill Gorsuch delivered a section of the ruling.

Victims of the al-Qaida staged attacks that killed about 224 people have accused Sudan of causing the bombings by allowing the then al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to live in its soil since the ‘90s and stage the almost simultaneous attacks on US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Most of those involved in this case were foreign citizens working at these embassies or people whose relatives were killed or injured at the embassies. 

The court had earlier awarded this group more than $10 billion in punitive damages, but $4 billion of this amount was struck out by the appeal’s court before the Supreme Court “unanimously vacated the appeals court’s ruling Monday.”

Matthew McGill a Washington-based attorney who represented 567 plaintiffs among them Kenyans who filed the case described the ruling on Monday as a major milestone for them.

“We are deeply gratified that the Supreme Court has validated the right of our clients to receive this measure of compensation,” said McGill.

“We are hopeful that this soon will lead Sudan to reach a just and equitable resolution with its victims.”

Christopher Curran, the attorney who represented Sudan in the case said that “Sudan looks forward to further proceedings in this continuing litigation while it remains engaged with the United States in negotiations to normalise the bilateral relationship.”

Sudan, going by a past ruling by the US courts is liable to paying Kenyan victims who suffered in the attack a tune of Ksh640 billion ($6 billion).

However, it is unlikely that these Kenyan families will receive a figure close to the stated amount in punitive damage