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Berlin to contest Italian Nazi massacre ruling

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18:12 CET+01:00
Germany will challenge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an Italian court's ruling that it pay damages to the families of victims of Nazi war crimes there, officials said Saturday.

"The German government wants the international court to resolve this issue," a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, confirming a report published in Der Spiegel magazine.

Last month, Italy's highest appeal court ordered Germany to pay compensation to families of the victims of the Arezzo massacre, when Nazi troops killed 203 men, women and children in the central province of Tuscany on June 29, 1944. The ruling was the first time an Italian court had ordered Germany to pay compensation in a criminal case.

The families of nine of the Arezzo victims asked for and were awarded a total of €800,000 ($1.05 million) in damages from the military court in September 2007. A lawyer acting for the German government argued before the Italian court that previous agreements between the two countries had put an end to this type of case.

He recognised "the responsibility of the soldiers and officers who committed ferocious war crimes" but said that to call into question international agreements would be to "open Pandora's box."

Based in The Hague, the ICJ is the United Nations' main judicial body. It was set up in 1945 and began its work the following year.

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