NORFOLK, Va. – A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Sudanese government caused the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole and will be liable for paying damages to the families of the 17 sailors killed in the attack.
U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar said he would issue a written opinion later to explain his reasoning. He requested additional paperwork, including tax returns of the sailors killed, to help calculate damages.
The families of the Cole sailors sued Sudan, contending the attack in 2000 could not have happened without the nation’s support of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network.
Sudan tried to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that too much time had passed between the bombing and the filing of the lawsuit in 2004. Carl D. Gray, a lawyer representing the Sudanese government, declined to comment.
The Cole was in Yemen’s port of Aden on Oct. 12, 2000, when the explosion ripped a 40-foot hole in its side.
The judge heard the trial, with no jury, in the city where the Cole is based.
“Words can’t express the loss my family has gone through,” Shalala Swenchonis-Wood testified Wednesday about her brother’s death. “It’s not financial, it’s not material, it’s always the things, the little things you don’t see.”
Four experts on terrorism, including former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, testified in person or by deposition Tuesday to support the families’ contention that al-Qaida needed the African nation’s help to carry out the attack.
The families are seeking $105 million in damages, but that amount could be reduced to $25 million to $35 million, lawyers said.