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Shooting Down Planes?

DW staff (win)January 2, 2007

Germany's interior minister wants to change the constitution to allow the military to shoot down planes if terrorists use them as weapons. The plan has been harshly criticized by others.

Schäuble wants to prevent an attack like the one on the World Trade CenterImage: AP

Less than a year after Germany's highest court declared a law allowing the destruction of terrorist-controlled planes as unconstitutional, German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble now plans to amend the constitution to allow this.

In its Tuesday edition, the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted Schäuble, a member of Germany's conservative Christian Democratic Union, as saying that the amendment would create a so-called "de facto defense situation," which would allow Germany's military to shoot down the plane.

On Feb. 15, 2006, the high court had rejected a new law that would have allowed planes to be shot down. Judges said that it was impossible to weigh the lives of people on the ground against the innocent passengers sitting in the plane.

Rejecting a "license to kill"

Bundesinnenminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) spricht am Donnerstag (28.09.2006) im Bundestag in Berlin während einer Regierungserklärung über die gestrige Islam-Konferenz.
Schäuble is facing criticism for his proposalImage: picture alliance /dpa

Politicians across the political spectrum have already rejected the idea.

"Schäuble is trying to side-step the constitutional court," Volker Beck of the opposition Greens party told Netzeitung, adding that German parliamentarians should not create a "license to kill."

According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, Max Stadler of the free-market, liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), Germany's largest opposition party, also called on Schäuble to respect the court's decision, adding that rulings by constitutional judges had traditionally been accepted in Germany as binding.

Dieter Wiefelspütz, an interior policy expert for Schäuble's coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, also called the interior minister's plan "not acceptable," Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

He added that sacrificing the lives of innocent people could only be demanded if the nation as a whole is threatened.