Court rules against sailors in Cole at­tack

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON – The Supreme Court on Tues­day ruled against sailors in­jured in the 2000 bomb­ing of the de­stroyer Cole in Ye­men by al-Qaida op­er­a­tives, say­ing the sailors had failed to serve their le­gal papers prop­erly in a law­suit against the gov­ern­ment of Su­dan.

The de­ci­sion threw out a $314 mil­lion de­fault judg­ment, although the court said the sailors should be able to pur­sue fur­ther lit­i­ga­tion.

The at­tack killed 17 U.S. sailors and in­jured dozens more. Fif­teen of the in­jured sailors and three of their spouses sued Su­dan by de­liv­er­ing a copy of their suit to its em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton. The suit said Su­dan had har­bored and sup­ported Osama bin Laden and other mem­bers of al-Qaida in the years be­fore the bomb­ing.

The ques­tion for the jus­tices was whether the suit had been prop­erly served. A fed­eral law al­lows ser­vice against for­eign gov­ern­ments “by any form of mail re­quir­ing a signed re­ceipt, to be ad­dressed and dis­patched” to “the head of the min­istry of for­eign af­fairs of the for­eign state con­cerned.”

Jus­tice Sa­muel Al­ito, writ­ing for eight mem­bers of the court, said the lan­guage of the statute re­quired send­ing the le­gal papers to the for­eign min­istry in Su­dan rather than Su­dan’s em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton.

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