Sudanese Pharmaceutical Plant Owner Sues US for Bombing
The owner of a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant bombed by the United States in 1998 filed suit Thursday seeking 50 million dollars in damages from the US government.
The suit on behalf of Salah Idris concerns the US bombardment of the El-Shifa plant on August 20th, 1998, an assault Idris calls "an unprovoked attack" based on an erroneous assumption that the facility was controlled by the Sudanese government and being used to make chemical weapons.
"I am not nor have I ever been a terrorist or associated with terrorists," Idris said in a statement.
He also denied allegations that he was associated with exiled Saudi national Osama bin Laden, suspected of masterminding attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania earlier the same month that left more than 200 people dead.
"I have never met nor spoken with Mr. Osama bin Laden nor with any agent of his," said Idris, who is Sudanese by birth but a Saudi national.
The lawsuit, filed in the US Court of Claims by the Washington firm Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue, claims the bombing "constituted a 'taking' of private property for public use" in violation of the US constitution.
US Justice Department spokesman Charles Miller had no immediate comment on the legal merits of the case.
"We obviously will have to get a copy of (the lawsuit) and review it, Miller said.
But State Department spokesman Phil Reeker said Washington has no regrets about the bombing.
"We stand by the decision to bomb a target in Sudan for the reasons we mentioned at the time," Reeker said.
"Nearly two years since this attack, the evidence about the purpose of this chemical plant remains persuasive."
US officials have maintained that a chemical compound, EMPTA, used to make chemical weapons, was found outside the El-Shifa facility.
The lawsuit contends however that the El-Shifa facility was "dedicated to encapsulating, mixing, blending and packaging human and veterinary pharmaceuticals" for distribution in Sudan and elsewhere.
Idris said he commissioned soil sample tests conducted by US and Dutch experts that found evidence of common pesticides that are chemically similar to EMPTA, but no trace of EMPTA - WASHINGTON (AFP)
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