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German high court overturns law on shooting down hijacked planes

[JURIST] Germany's Federal Constitutional Court [official website in German] ruled Wednesday that a law permitting the German air force to shoot down hijacked planes [JURIST report] to prevent a suicide attack was unconstitutional [press release, in English; decision, in German], reasoning that the government lacks the right to take the lives of passengers in an attempt to save lives on the ground.

German ministers pushed through the legislation [BBC report] in late 2003 after a pilot created panic in Frankfurt by circling the city in a small plane and threatening to crash it into the European Central Bank tower. Last year a solo pilot crashed a similar plane in front of Germany's parliament building in an apparent suicide. Reuters has more. Deutsche Welle has local coverage.

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