[JURIST] A lawyer for the government of Sudan urged the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit brought by families of the 17 sailors killed in the 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole [Wikipedia backgrounder; US DOD inquiry report] alleging that Sudan helped finance the attack and allowed an al-Qaeda operative to ship explosives to Yemen, where the attack occurred. In August a federal judge in Virginia ruled [JURIST report] that there was enough evidence to allow the lawsuit to proceed. The lawyer representing Sudan on appeal stated that the lawsuit did not directly connect Sudan to al-Qaeda, the terrorist network largely held responsible for the attack. In response, the lawyer representing the families argued that the specific facts surrounding the allegations do not have to be established until the district court trial.
Sudan cannot claim sovereign immunity in the suit under the general terms of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act [text] because it is subject to an amendment contained in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 [text] exposing US-defined state sponsors of terrorism [US State Department list] to potential liability. AP has more. Read a 2005 Congressional Research Service overview of lawsuits against state supporters of terrorism [PDF].