European Court docket Backs Germany in Case Over 2009 Killings of Afghan Civilians

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BERLIN — The European Court docket of Human Rights dominated on Tuesday in favor of Germany in a dispute with Afghan civilians who challenged the nation’s investigation right into a 2009 assault on oil tankers in Afghanistan that killed as many as 90 civilians.

A panel of 17 judges from throughout Europe dominated unanimously that the German investigation into the bombing didn’t violate the European human rights conference.

On the night time of the assault, Sept. 3, 2009, Taliban fighters hijacked two tankers carrying NATO gasoline after which received caught on a sandbank within the Kunduz River, about 4 miles from the NATO base within the northern metropolis of Kunduz.

Col. Georg Klein, a German who on the time was commander of the NATO base in Kunduz, known as in U.S. navy planes to bomb the tankers, saying that he believed that solely insurgents have been within the space and that he feared the Taliban might use the tankers to hold out assaults. However dozens of native Afghans had swarmed the tankers, invited by the Taliban to siphon off gasoline.

A German Military investigation later decided that as many as 90 civilians had been killed. On the time of the assault, Germany was broadly criticized by its companions in Afghanistan, and the occasions plunged the nation right into a bitter debate concerning the position of its navy forces throughout peacetime.

However over the previous decade, German prosecutors have declined to press prices in opposition to the commander, and courts have upheld the choice and denied survivors the correct to demand compensation from the federal government.

Abdul Hanan, whose sons, Abdul Bayan, 12, and Nesarullah, 8, have been killed within the 2009 airstrike, introduced the case earlier than the European courtroom after a number of lawsuits within the German judicial system.

“They martyred 100 folks, they bombed us unjustly, so how can they arrive to this unjust resolution?” Mr. Hanan, a farmer, mentioned by phone from Kunduz after he discovered of the courtroom’s ruling.

“Is our blood value lower than the blood of a German?” mentioned Mr. Hanan, who has eight different youngsters. He mentioned he had anticipated the courtroom to rule in his favor and to grant him and different relations extra funds.

“I wished the courtroom to offer justice, to have mercy on us,” he mentioned.

He accused the commander of failing to sufficiently examine the potential menace posed to civilians earlier than ordering the strike and argued that Germany had protected Colonel Klein and others he claimed have been accountable for overlaying up the airstrike.

He additionally claimed that he lacked a path to problem the choice of Germany’s federal prosecutor to drop an investigation final yr in opposition to the colonel.

Instantly after the assault, the German authorities paid $5,000 in compensation to households of civilian who have been killed or significantly injured. However Mr. Hanan sought additional damages in addition to recognition of Germany’s failure to guard Afghan civilians.

In 2018, Germany’s prime civil courtroom dominated that, below worldwide legislation, a state was not obligated to pay out compensation to people. The courtroom additionally discovered that the state couldn’t be held answerable for cases of dereliction of obligation by troopers serving on overseas missions.

The European courtroom, primarily based in Strasbourg, France, discovered that the federal prosecutor’s resolution to drop an investigation into the commanding basic was justified “as a result of he had been satisfied, on the time of ordering the airstrike, that no civilians had been current” on the assault website.

The German Parliament held a public investigation into the bombing, which has additionally been challenged in a number of German courts.

The European courtroom’s ruling comes because the Biden administration is debating whether or not to honor a deal that President Donald J. Trump struck with the Taliban final yr. Germany entered Afghanistan alongside its NATO allies in 2001, and as much as 1,300 of its troops are nonetheless serving there with 2,500 U.S. counterparts.

David Zucchino contributed reporting from Kabul.

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