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Germany

Couple Sues Travel Company Over Terror Attack

Two years after an al Qaeda-linked terror attack in Tunisia killed 21 people, a German couple is suing travel company TUI for serious injuries their son suffered.

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The Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, where the attack was carried out

Michael and Andrea Esper from Bergkamen, Germany, filed a claim in a Hanover court Wednesday to order Europe's largest travel company TUI to pay them €100,000 ($122,000) in compensation for serious injuries sustained by their then three-year-old son Adrian Esper on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba following a terror attack.

They are also demanding a monthly compensation of €800 for Adrian's treatment costs. The parents argue TUI failed to properly warn them of the terror threat.

Synagoge Djerba Explosion Innenansicht

Members of the Tunisian Jewish community inspect damage in the Djerba synagogue.

Adrian Esper, now aged five, suffered burns on 40 percent of his body during the April 11, 2002, blast when a tanker truck filled with cooking gas was crashed into a historic synagogue on the popular vacation island of Djerba. The explosion killed 14 Germans, two French nationals and five Tunisians, including the suspected bomber. Since then Adrian has been in and out of the hospital and continues to suffer from grave injuries.

The Esper family had booked their vacation through 1-2 Fly, which belongs to TUI. Their visit to the synagogue was part of an excursion package arranged by the company. The Espers contend that TUI must have known of a concrete danger to tourists and hence should have warned them.

Out of court settlement likely

TUI however, has denied the charges. TUI lawyer Alfred Pesch argued in court Wednesday that the company could not have predicted the attack, saying Tunisia showed no signs of violence beforehand.

Judge Knüllig-Dingeldey said she would issue a ruling on October 27, but would prefer an out of court settlement.

Pesch emphasized that if such a settlement is reached, it should not include a recognition of the company's guilt and would only be made on humanitarian grounds. "One can always imagine a compensation," he said. The lawyer also demanded that a fundamental legal clarification was necessary for Germany's travel companies.

Last year, German and Tunisian interior ministers, meeting just ahead of the anniversary of the attack, signed an agreement to combat terrorism and other crimes.

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