Victims could sue over failures in Berlin attack

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Victims could sue over failures in Berlin attack
A memorial at the scene. Photo: DPA

Victims of the Berlin Christmas terror attack could be entitled to compensation in the "three-digit millions", a lawyer who is representing some of the injured has said.


While Germany awaits a report looking into whether its authorities could have done more to prevent the attack, lawyer Andreas Schulz warned that inadequate security measures could see victims pursue multi-million euro claims.

Speaking to the Tagesspiegel on Thursday, Schulz said he was representing some of the attack victims, having previously worked for victims of the Nice attack in July 2016 and other terrorist incidents.

"The question is why the concrete blocks around the market were put up only after the attack and not before," he said, noting that after a truck attack at Nice's Bastille Day celebrations left dozens dead in the summer, this should have been an "obvious" security consideration - and that the measure would likely have saved lives.

What's more, the lawyer points out that the US had warned its citizens to be "vigilant" when visiting Europe over the Christmas period, and that the US State Department had said there was evidence that terrorist groups were planning attacks in Europe for the holiday season.

"They didn't only warn their citizens, but German security authorities too," Schulz told the newspaper.

The lawyer has made a freedom of information request to Berlin authorities to find out if they were aware that Christmas markets could be attack targets, and whether any threats had been made.

Eleven people were killed when the truck was driven into a busy market just days before Christmas. The twelfth victim, the Polish truck owner, was shot dead by Amri just before the rampage.

A further eleven of the more than 50 injured are still in intensive care in hospitals around the capital

The presumed perpetrator, Anis Amri, was shot dead on the run in Italy by police officers.

Close relative of those who were killed are to receive €5,000 to €10,000 from the Federal Office of Justice. Those left wounded are to receive sums based on the severity of their injuries.

A law passed after the 2002 attack on the Tunisian island of Djerba in 2002 also sets aside money for victims of terrorism. However, Berlin attack victims are not included under this law because it does not apply to damages caused by a motor vehicle.

Still, the victims can receive aid from other means, such as a fund for traffic victims.

But some of those affected are unsatisfied by the response of the police and politicians to the attack.

One woman whose partner is still in critical condition told the Tagesspiegel: "I find the lack of attention from the state sad and dishonorable."

Could Germany have done more?

The Berlin attack raised a number of questions about the country's security capabilities after it emerged that the main suspect Amri had been investigated by intelligence services in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) on suspicion of planning a terror plot and had been categorized as a security threat.

But when he moved to Berlin in February 2016, a lack of communication between security services in the two states appears to have contributed to him being able to escape the attentions of police. He wasn't seen for almost two months before he carried out his deadly attack.

Amri had been told to leave the country in June 2016, but remained free in the months that Germany tried to get official documents about him from his home country of Tunisia.

Germany's Justice Minister Heiko Maas now has announced that a report into the mistakes made in the handling of the presumed attacker, Amri, will be presented in the coming days.

"There can be no mistakes," Maas said on ZDF television channel.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière had already promised an investigation into how the authorities acted, a few days after the attack took place on December 19th. At the time, the CDU politician denied a general failure of the security forces.

Maas said authorities were investigating why authorities were not able to prevent the attack, despite being aware of Amri.

"There will be a very detailed report of all the authorities involved in the next few days," he said.

READ MORE: How Germany plans to reform security after Berlin attack


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