April 24, 2014

Afghan families sue Germany $4.4M over deadly airstrike

By Sadaf Shinwari - Sat Dec 29 2012, 11:43 am

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey's plane attacked at Bagram air base near Kabul, AfghanistanFamilies of victims of an air strike in Afghanistan that killed more than 90 people in 2009 have filed a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against Germany, a lawyer said Friday.

In September 2009, the command of the German contingent of the NATO forces in Afghanistan initiated an airstrike on two oil tankers in Kunduz province, which had been seized by Taliban militants.

A Germany army commander ordered the attack on two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban because he said they posed a threat to his troops.

The army said 91 people died in the attack in Kunduz province but lawyers for the families say 137 were killed. Many of the victims were women and children trying to siphon fuel.

Karim Popal, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said 10 class action lawsuits were claiming 3.3 million euros ($4.4 million) in damages from the German government. “Many orphans and widows lost their providers due to this barbaric war crime, and many mothers their young children,” Popal said in a statement.

“Nearly all the survivors are traumatised and are not receiving psychological treatment.”

nitially, German forces said no civilians had been killed but it transpired that the tankers had been abandoned by the militants.

It soon became clear that a large number of civilians had died and the attack created a political scandal in Germany in the weeks before national elections, which Chancellor Angela Merkel went on to win.

The air strike prompted public outrage just weeks before a German general election, forcing the defence minister at the time to resign and putting Chancellor Angela Merkel under pressure to clearly define her Afghan policy. The defence ministry approved compensation in 2010 of $5,000 per family.

A ministry spokesman said Friday that 90 families had received payouts to date.

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