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American Court Orders Sudan to Pay for Deadly Past

The Supreme Court has unanimously reinstated as much as $4.3 billion in punitive damages awarded against Sudan to victims of truck bombs detonated in 1998 outside United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attacks, conducted by Qaeda operatives, killed hundreds and wounded thousands. Starting in 2001, many of the victims and their family members sued Sudan in federal court, arguing that it had helped Al Qaeda in carrying out the bombings. After a trial in which Sudan did not participate, Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court in Washington found in 2011 that Sudan had provided crucial assistance to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, its leader. Foreign nations are ordinarily immune from suits in American courts. But Congress has made exceptions, including one in 1996 for acts of terrorism conducted by nations designated as state sponsors of terrorism. Under the 1996 law, plaintiffs were allowed to seek compensation for their losses but not punitive damages, which are meant to punish and deter wrongdoing.