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Economy

US judge awards $907m to victims in Kenya, Tanzania bombings

A United States judge Friday awarded $907 million in damages to American and Tanzanian victims of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which killed hundreds and injured thousands.

Judge John D. Bates of the US District Court of the District of Columbia made the ruling in a suit filed by survivors of the bomb attacks against the governments of Sudan and Iran. 

Thomas Fortune Fay, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs said, “This judgment is a significant step in assuring that these American and Tanzanian victims of terrorism receive justice for the suffering they experienced as a result of deliberate and calculated mayhem by the governments of Sudan and Iran."

The inclusion of Tanzanians who were on duty in the course of their work at the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam was made possible by a 2008 amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) by The United States Congress. 

Judge Bates found the defendants – the Republic of Sudan, the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Sudan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security – liable for “their roles in supporting, funding, and otherwise carrying out these unconscionable acts.”

The judge used the FSIA as the legal instrument for the award. Among other provisions, FSIA enables American and US Government-employed victims of state sponsored terrorism to sue the sponsoring nation and collect any judgment awarded under it through attachments of foreign assets in the US.

“Countries that sponsor, promote, and execute terrorism against US citizens and people who work for the US Government must recognise that maiming and murdering Americans have an array of costs – political, diplomatic, and financial. We have collected several FSIA judgments for our clients, and Sudan and Iran need to know we will do everything we can to collect these. Sooner or later, these governments will learn that they cannot and will not get away with terrorist attacks on American citizens,” said Mr Fay.

Mr Fay is a pioneer in representing American victims of state sponsored terrorism and has been at the forefront of many of the leading cases in this area.

The Nairobi bombing took place on August 7, 1998, killing 224 people, including 12 Americans. More than 4,500 were injured. Delivered in a truck, the bomb destroyed much of the US Embassy and levelled an adjacent building. The simultaneous Dar es Salaam bombing killed 10 people, who were employed by the US Embassy there. Iran withdrew its diplomatic personnel from each location on August 6.

“The FSIA is a far reaching statute that empowers American citizens to fight back against the ravages of state-sponsored terrorism. It also provides a thorough and diligent due-process for foreign governments to defend themselves. It has been on the books since 1976 and has been amended several times since to adapt to the increased danger of state-sponsored terrorism. As several governments have found, the law has teeth,” Mr Fay concluded.

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