Court to Rehear $50M Claim Over Missile Strike

     (CN) – The D.C. Circuit agreed to reconsider its dismissal of a $50 million defamation claim against the U.S. government over a 1998 missile attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.

     A three-judge panel declined to rule on the case in March, saying it raised political questions that would require courts to second-guess national security decisions.
     The missile strike had been ordered by then-President Bill Clinton, in response to al-Qaida’s 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
     The target, a pharmaceutical plant in North Khartoum, Sudan, was owned by El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. and Salah El Din Mohammed Idris.
     The owners said members of the Clinton administration justified the attack by falsely claiming that the plant was a “terrorists’ base of operation,” was “associated with the bin Laden network” and was secretly a chemical weapons plant.
     But the company said it had no connections to al-Qaida and insisted that the plant produced only drugs, including more than half the pharmaceuticals used in the Sudan.
     Seeking to recoup their losses from the attack, the owners filed a $50 million claim against the United States, alleging defamation and violations of international law.
     Both the district court and the appellate panel dismissed the case under the political question doctrine.
     But a majority of D.C. Circuit judges on Monday agreed to rehear the case before the full court. The order also vacated the panel ruling and scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 16.

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