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Owens v. Republic of Sudan

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
864 F.3d 751 (2017)


Facts

Al Qaeda killed over 200 people and injured over 1,000 in simultaneous truck bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. James Owens and others representing the victims (plaintiffs) brought a lawsuit claiming the Republic of Sudan (defendant) provided the terrorists with material support in activities that caused the bombings in violation of international law. Sudan did not appear at or before trial. Before trial, the court held an evidentiary hearing and qualified three terrorism experts to give opinions about Sudan supporting al Qaeda. The experts said they relied on multiple sources of information as well as the evidence presented at the hearing. The court also admitted almost a decade’s worth of State Department reports that showed Sudan continued to harbor terrorist groups including Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda despite repeated warnings. The court concluded that Sudan provided material support to al Qaeda and entered judgment against Sudan. Sudan appealed on multiple grounds, including challenging the expert opinions as unreliable and inconsistent with underlying facts and the State Department reports as inadmissible hearsay.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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