Home Military and War Human Rights Court hears Kunduz air raid in 2009

Human Rights Court hears Kunduz air raid in 2009

human rights court hears kunduz air raid in

Afghan Abdul Hanan lost two sons in the NATO attack. The European Court of Human Rights is to clarify whether the attack requested by a German colonel constitutes a violation of human rights.

Just over ten years after the NATO air raid in Kunduz, Afghanistan,  which left many dead, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg dealt with the case this Wednesday. The trial before the Grand Chamber dealt with the lawsuit of the Afghan Abdul Hanan against Germany. He accuses the Bundeswehr of violating human rights.

Plaintiffs failed before German courts

According to Hanan’s lawyer Karim Popal, the court should clarify whether, in the case of the attack initiated by Colonel Georg Klein at the night of September 4, 2009, “the European Convention on Human Rights applies and whether it has been taken into account by the Bundeswehr or not”. Hanan had lost two sons aged eight and twelve in the air raid. Hanan and other survivors had failed with compensation claims before German courts. Investigations against Klein have been terminated. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had ruled that German official liability law was not applicable to Bundeswehr missions abroad.

Victim lawyer Karim Popal (right) and colleague Peter Derleder at a court hearing in Bonn in March 2013

The Federal Government’s Human Rights Commissioner, Almut Wittling-Vogel, expressed understanding of the “deep suffering” of the family father at the trial before the Grand Chamber of the Court. According to lawyer Heike Krieger, the federal government claims that the attack was not carried out under German jurisdiction, “since the attack was carried out on behalf of the United Nations”.
Plaintiff Hanan’s lawyer, on the other hand, pointed out that there had been “a series of binding instructions” from the German colonel for the air attack that had been carried out without any UN control. This is a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, he argued.

Trucks as rolling bombs?

Klein, as the commander in Kunduz, had bombarded two tankers filled with kerosene. The background was the capture of the vices by Taliban fighters near the German encampment in Kunduz. Klein feared that the trucks could be used as rolling bombs against the camp. At the request of the Bundeswehr, US warplanes attacked the tank trucks. However, there were numerous civilians in the area.

The exact number of victims is still unknown

According to various sources, the air attack killed 14 to 142 people, including 14 to 113 civilians. The Bundeswehr reported the number of victims as 91 dead and 11 injured. The ECHR emphasized that the exact number of fatalities was not known.

Georg Klein, the then commander in Kunduz, requested the NATO attack (photo from September 2009)

Popal’s protocols show that the pilots questioned the command of the German colonel in view of a large number of people around the tank trucks. In addition, according to Popal’s research, “not a single” Taliban was among the dead. Germany made voluntary one-time payments of $ 5,000 per family at the time. According to Popal, due to the corruption rampant in Afghanistan, this did not reach everyone affected. Aid projects such as an orphanage were financed by private donors.

Fall triggered government crisis in Berlin

The air raid had led to a government crisis following initial attempts by the federal government to appease. The then Minister of Defense, Franz Josef Jung, initially defended the attack. In late November 2009, he resigned from his new job as minister of labor after allegedly covering up explosive information about the attack.

© The Eastern Herald

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