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President Gauck to receive relatives of Berlin attack victims

German President Joachim Gauck is to receive relatives of the 12 people killed in last month's terror attack in Berlin. The gesture came as the Bundestag debated compensation and remembrance for the victims.

German President Joachim Gauck was to receive relatives of the 12 people killed in last month's terror attack in Berlin at his residence in Bellevue Palace in Berlin, German media reported Saturday.

Reports suggest the German president wanted to personally express his condolences and to show that Germany would continue to support them. He was expected to receive the relatives in the coming weeks, although a spokeswoman for the president said that no date had been set.

Relatives from Germany and abroad were invited. In addition to the seven Germans who lost their lives in the attack on December 19, nationals from the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Italy, Israel and Poland were also killed.

Around another 50 people were injured when Tunisian national Anis Amri ploughed a truck into a crowded Christmas market on Berlin's Breitscheidplatz.

On Thursday, Gauck joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and parliamentarians in Berlin to observe a minute's silence in remembrance of the victims, one month to the day after the attack.

Victim compensation and remembrance

Compensation for the relatives of the Berlin attack victims has been debated by German lawmakers. On Friday, German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles and Justice Minister Heiko Maas agreed to provide extensive aid to victims' relatives, including emergency aid and pension payments.

However, Volker Kauder, head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) deputies in Germany's Bundestag, criticized the Ministry of Justice for doing too little for the relatives. "They should go out and approach the relatives and ask what kind of support we can provide, including financial support," he told the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper.

"We should then move to create the necessary legal framework to provide what it is they need," Kauder said, adding that a memorial tablet for the victims should also be placed at the site of the attack.

Last week, a lawyer representing families of some victims claimed his clients might sue the government for hundreds of millions of euros because of the weak security arrangements that they claim were in place at the Breitscheidplatz.

dm/jm (dpa, KNA)

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