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Germany to seek international court ruling on WWII damages claims

[JURIST] Officials from the German Foreign Ministry [official website] on Saturday said that Germany will seek a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] to block new claims for personal damages resulting from Nazi actions in World War II. Germany is seeking the ruling after a recent decision [JURIST report] by Italy's high court, the Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian], which ordered Germany to pay 1 million euros (USD $1.3 million) in damages to relatives of 203 civilians killed in the town of Civitella during the war. AP has more. DPA has local coverage.

The Court of Cassation awarded the damages [Corriere della Sera report, in Italian] in a case against Max Josef Milde, a German sergeant present at the Civitella attack, who was sentenced in absentia to life in prison. Under Italian law, crime victims may seek civil damages as part of a criminal proceeding. Germany had argued that the 1961 Bonn Treaty, where Germany agreed to pay 40 billion marks to Italy for war crimes committed, closed all further financial compensation claims, but the Italian court held the treaty only applied to treatment of the Jews. Germany had also argued that the award is unenforceable under the principle of state immunity. International agreements that govern situations in which a nation may claim immunity include the European Convention on State Immunity [text], ratified by members of the Council of Europe in 1972, and the UN Convention on Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property [text], adopted in 2004.

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