• Germany's news in English

Yemeni sues Germany over US drone strikes

The Local · 16 Oct 2014, 11:54

Published: 16 Oct 2014 11:54 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, brother-in-law and uncle respectively to the two men killed in the attack, submitted his complaint to the Cologne administrative court on Wednesday.

Imam Salim bin Ali Jaber and his cousin Waleed, a policeman, were killed by missiles launched from American drones on August 29th, 2012, eyewitnesses told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

They were meeting with three men believed to have connections to terrorist group al-Qaeda.

But the imam had called on local people to stand up to al-Qaeda in a sermon at Friday prayers just days before, Ali Jaber said, and his relatives were meeting the men to respond to their questions about it.

“Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein [airbase], men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today,” Ali Jaber said in a statement.

“I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stops Ramstein being used to help the US' illegal and devastating drone war.”

Ramstein: a node in the drone net

The American airbase at Ramstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is the largest US overseas airbase and a keystone of the unmanned aircraft programme.

All the data used to control the aircraft and all the images they record are transmitted from the drones via satellite to the base's Air and Space Operations Centre, and from there by fibre-optic cable to pilots on the US mainland.

Now Ali Jaber wants the German government to prevent such data transfers through its territory, saying that his countrymen are entitled to the right to life enshrined in the German constitution.

He is being supported in the case by human rights organizations Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: “The evidence that Ramstein is a crucial peg in the US drone war is overwhelming. It’s now incumbent on the German courts to uphold the principles that are enshrined in German law that make German complicity and co-operation in killing people like Salim and Waleed unlawful."

"Faisal approached Reprieve about representing him, including in legal proceedings, to get some semblance of justice for his relatives and the communities in Yemen that are being so devastated by US drones."

Andreas Schueller, from ECCHR, addedd: “Ramstein is crucial for US drone warfare. Germany has to bring it to an end – if not it is complicit in the death of civilians."

The US government has repeatedly defended its drone war saying it takes "extraordinary care" to comply with international law.

It argues the drone strikes which target terror suspects were the course of action "least likely to results in the loss of innocent life".

Legal hurdles

This is not the first court case brought in Germany over the use of its territory to support drone strikes in the Middle East.

In 2013, federal prosecutors found that a drone attack on a German jihadist in Pakistan was not a war crime, as the man was a member of an armed group.

Story continues below…

American forces in Germany have been regulated by the Nato Status of Forces agreement since the 1950s.

The document provides that “military forces and civilian personnel are allowed to take required measures for the satisfactory fulfillment of its defence obligations on the provided premises.”

Legal experts have previously said that a successful challenge to US military activities on German soil would have to show that a crime was committed under international law.

Meanwhile, the German government has claimed in the past that it has “no knowledge” of the use to which the US facilities at Ramstein are put.

And on a state visit in June 2013, US President Barack Obama told journalists that Germany is not used as a “launching point” for drone strikes in the Middle East when challenged about the use of the base.

SEE ALSO: Germans want cooler relations with USA

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd