Germany faces Italian WWII claims

Germany has said it may appeal an Italian court ruling to fine the government damages for Italians forced to work in Nazi labour camps during the Second World War.

“The ruling is being translated. We will then study it in detail and we reserve the right to taking further legal steps,” German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told news agency AFP on Friday in Berlin, adding that the government is in close contact with the Italy regarding the matter.

An appeal to the Wednesday ruling from the Italian Cassation Court could mean a trial at the international tribunal at The Hague.

The Italian court rejected Germany’s appeal for immunity and upheld an order for the country to compensate 52 elderly plaintiffs, many of whom were soldiers who have long sought atonement for their deportation to Germany after Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943.

A lawyer for 12 of the victims, Luca Procacci, is seeking €100 million ($155 million) for each, AFP reported.

The court, which said the deportations were a crime against humanity, wants to use assets in Italy belong Germany’s leading state-funded cultural institute, the Goethe Institut, as collateral for the payment.

Germany’s appeal is based on a 1961 treaty governing mutual assistance in war claims.