- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

RICHMOND, VA. (AP) - John Clodfelter won’t see a dime of the $13.4 million from Sudan that a federal judge granted to relatives of 17 sailors killed in the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, including Clodfelter’s son.

But the Mechanicsville man is still thankful for a resolution to the lawsuit he and other family members of the attack’s victims filed six years ago against the troubled African nation.

The relatives argued successfully that Sudan’s government provided support that allowed al-Qaida suicide bombers to attack the Navy destroyer with a bomb aboard a small boat in a Yemen port in 2000.

Clodfelter’s daughter-in-law and 10-year-old son are among those who will receive at least $200,000 after a federal judge recently released the Sudanese money that had been frozen by the U.S. government.

“It’s taken so much more time than we thought it should take,” he said Tuesday.

Twenty-six other parents who sued Sudan were not eligible for compensation, which went instead to their child’s spouse or children, a judge in Norfolk, Va., ruled in 2007.

“Not one penny can replace the life of my child,” said Mona Gunn of Virginia Beach, whose 22-year-old son Cherone was killed in the attack. “The sad thing is, not all family members are receiving compensation. There are mothers and fathers who lost children who aren’t going to get compensation, and siblings who lost a brother or sister.”

The Sudanese government didn’t fight the case during a trial, but has refused to pay the families. A spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Washington said Tuesday the country had nothing to do with the attack.

“It didn’t take place on Sudan soil or water, and there is no Sudanese involvement in it,” said spokesman Seif Yasin. “There’s no proof Sudan provided any financial support for anyone involved.”

U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood’s order freed the funds under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, which requires the release of blocked assets to satisfy a judgment against a “terrorist party.” The State Department has designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993, Wood said.

Individual awards will range from about $200,000 to $1.2 million, according to Andrew C. Hall, an attorney for the families.

Hall said the family members, including those previously denied compensation, will also seek pain and suffering payment under a new law passed by Congress last year. The Death on the High Seas Act allowed the Norfolk judge to award compensation only for lost wages and earning potential.

The additional compensation sought under the new law could amount to about $50 million, Hall said. The families originally sought more than $100 million.

“It’s been a long fight for these people, and hopefully this is the first step,” he said.

Thomas Wibberley of Williamsport, Md., who son, Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley, was killed in the attack said the money should help children of the victims.

“They’re going to get a good amount of this money and get trust funds, and they’re the ones to be taken care of,” he said.

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