The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a legal setback to Sudan on Monday, ruling that the African nation cannot avoid punitive damages it was ordered to pay in lawsuits accusing it of complicity in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
Siding with hundreds of people hurt and relatives of people killed in the bombings, the justices voted 8-0 to throw out a lower court’s 2017 decision that had freed Sudan from the punitive damages awarded in the litigation in addition to about $6 billion in compensatory damages. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the case.
The case hinged on the Supreme Court’s view of a 2008 amendment to a federal law known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allowing for punitive damages. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2017 upheld Sudan’s liability but ruled that the amendment was made after the bombings occurred and cannot be applied retroactively.