NATO’s Afghan airstrike victims refused compensation by German court

Afghan hospital workers carry an injured Afghan villager in hospital after Friday's NATO air strike on a Taliban target in northern Kunduz September 4, 2009. © Omar Sobhani
Germany’s highest federal appeal court has decided that compensation claims submitted by relatives of Afghans killed in a NATO airstrike, carried out by US jets and called in by a German commander seven years ago, will not be accepted.

The Federal Court of Justice rejected a payout claim filed by a father of two children killed in a 2009 NATO airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz and by a widowed mother-of-six, AFP reported on Thursday. The man was seeking €40,000 (almost $45,000) while the woman asked for €50,000 (more than $55,000).

“The military decision that was taken was valid under international law,” judge Ulrich Herrmann said in the ruling, according to The Local.

The court found that there is no evidence that German commander, then-Colonel Georg Klein, holds responsibility for the September 2009 bombing that claimed the lives of 91 civilians. The strike carried out by US planes hit two fuel tankers stolen by Taliban militants.

READ MORE: ‘Disciplined’? Kunduz hospital bombing land ‘mainly administrative’ punishment for 12 US troops

The court also found no legal grounds to hold the German military accountable for the tragedy, AP reported. It has been claimed that it acted under NATO command and the blame for the airstrike can’t be put exclusively on Berlin. 

Families who had lost a relative in the attack were initially paid $5,000 each, however, not as compensation but rather as humanitarian aid. The sum was described as "laughable" by the former Afghan Commerce Minister Amin Farhang. Some of the relatives of the deceased people tried to request a greater sum of money.

The victim’s lawyer, Karim Popal, said he wanted to take the case to the court of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

In October 2015, Kunduz was the site of another controversial bombing carried out by US planes, in which 42 people were killed and dozens wounded after a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital was repeatedly struck within an hour. Initially, the US attempted to shift the blame on Afghan government that requested air support in the area.

However, MSF said they informed the US military about the bombing 11 minutes into the attack, but the airstrike continued. The NGO, which is not satisfied with the US internal investigation, has called for an independent probe.

MSF had “clear agreements in place with the warring parties: Taliban, Afghan government and the US that they knew that this hospital was there and they agreed with it,” the head of the MSF Office in Brussels, Michael Hoffman, told RT.

In July 2015, at least 8 Afghan soldiers were killed in another NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, security officials reported. A similar airstrike took place at the same area in December. It killed five people and wounded six others.

READ MORE: US probe into Kunduz bombing leaves too many questions, independent inquiry needed – MSF

The mission of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan officially ended in December 2015, but some US forces are still stationed in Afghanistan to carry out training and anti-terrorism operations.

Germany is the third largest NATO supplier after the US and the UK.