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Germany

Court Rejects Serbs' Bombing Appeal

A German court on Thursday rejected an attempt by 35 Serbs to claim compensation for Germany's part in the 1999 bombing of a bridge in Varvarin, Serbia, during the Kosovo conflict. The appeal court in Cologne ruled that neither international law nor German law allowed for such a claim, upholding a decision made by a court in Bonn in December last year. The German state cannot be accused of "behaving like a war criminal" as a result of the aerial bombing of the bridge in the central Serbian town which killed 10 people and injured 17, the judges ruled. The Serbs, all relatives or friends of the victims, were claiming 536,000 euros ($650,000) in damages in a civil case which was the first of its kind in Germany. The claimants said that although no German military personnel were in the planes which bombed the bridge, Germany was part of the NATO operation and took part in the decision to carry out the bombing. The Serbs said after the ruling that they would now take their case to the federal court of justice. In claims backed up by Amnesty International, the Serbs said the NATO air strikes on May 30, 1999, on the town 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Belgrade violated international law because they targeted civilians.

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