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Relatives of German accident victims to receive legal rights

April 13, 2015

In light of the Germanwings crash, Germany's government plans to legally implement a claim to compensation. Relatives of the victims of flight 4U9525 are expected to receive a pay out prior to the change.

Memorial to school children on board crashed Germanwings flight
Image: Getty Images/I. Fassbender

Talks between members of Germany's SPD and CDU coalition with the Justice, Interior and Social Ministries now look to speed up, in order to reach an agreement by the parliamentary summer break.

"The terrible plane crash has created the need for action," said the SPD law expert John Fechner in the Monday edition of the local German newspaper, "Rheinische Post".

"It must be clarified whether the claim, which already stands in coalition agreement, will be implemented only in the Civil Code (BGB), the Crime Victims Compensation Act, or in both," Fechner said.

According to the report in the "Rheinische Post," relatives of victims are currently only entitled to compensation if they can prove that the death of their relatives has caused serious harm to them.

Compensation set aside

Family members of the Germanwings crash victims will not directly benefit from the new law, as a retrospective enforcement is seldom possible, the newspaper reported.

Government circles expect, however, that Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, will handle the compensation claims as if the legal right already exists.

The airline announced late last month that it had set aside $300 million (283 million euros) in compensation for relatives of the victims.

Intentional crash

Evidence from the two flight recorders of the crashed Airbus A320 suggests that co-pilot of the fateful 4U9525 flight, Andreas Lubitz, was to blame for the incident on March 24.

Investigators believe the co-pilot deliberately brought the Airbus A320 down in the French Alps, en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf, after locking the pilot out of the cockpit. All 150 passengers and crew were killed in the crash.

Bomb alert

Alarms were raised at Germanwings again on Sunday following a bomb alert by police on board a flight from Cologne to Milan. All 126 passengers and crew were safely evacuated from the Airbus 320 before it was searched by a bomb detection team with sniffer dogs. It was not immediately clear if anything was found.

ksb/jil (AFP, dpa)