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October 20, 2006

Serbs take Germany to court over NATO attack

Filed under: Balkan, Germany — limewoody @ 7:26 am

Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) – The families of civilians killed and wounded in a NATO airstrike on a Serbian village 17 years ago sought compensation from a German court on Thursday.

Ten people died and 30 were injured in the May 1999 attack on a bridge in Varvarin at the height of the Kosovo war.

Although no German planes took part in the raid, the plaintiffs are seeking 3.5 million euros (4.1 million dollars) in damages from the German government.

They claim German troops serving with NATO helped select the target and Germany therefore shared responsibility for the NATO action.

Three of the 35 plaintiffs appeared before the High Court to present their case on Thursday.


Vavarian a town of 4,000, is located 200 kilometres from the province of Kosovo where Slobodon Milosevic’s Serbian army was suppressing ethnic Albanians.

Lawyers for the German government called the attack a “tragedy,” but said they could not see why damages should be paid because the bridge was a military target.

NATO has defended the bombing and said the bridge was a “legitimate” target that served as infrastructure for the Serbian army fighting in Kosovo.

Varvarin Mayor Zoran Milenkovic, who lost his daughter Sanja in the air strike, said before the hearing that “the town was not defended and could not defend itself against a NATO strike.”

Two lower courts had previously rejected claims for compensation.


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