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The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday rejected a complaint against Germany’s refusal to prosecute an officer who ordered the deadly bombing in 2009 of two fuel tankers in northern Afghanistan.

Scores of people died when U.S. Air Force jets bombed the tankers hijacked by the Taliban near Kunduz. The strike was ordered by the commander of the German base in Kunduz, Col. Georg Klein, who feared insurgents could use the trucks to carry out attacks.

Contrary to the intelligence Klein based his decision on, most of those swarming the trucks were local civilians invited by the Taliban to siphon fuel from the vehicles after they had become stuck in a riverbed.

An Afghan man who lost two sons aged 8 and 12 in the airstrike, Abdul Hanan, took the case to the European Court of Human Rights after German authorities declined to prosecute Klein. He alleged that Germany failed to conduct an effective investigation and that no “effective domestic remedy” to that had been available in Germany.

The Strasbourg, France-based court rejected the complaints. It found that German federal prosecutors were “able to rely on a considerable amount of material concerning the circumstances and the impact of the airstrike.”

It also noted that courts including Germany’s highest, the Federal Constitutional Court, rejected cases by Hanan. And it added that a parliamentary commission of inquiry “had ensured a high level of public scrutiny of the case.”

Wolfgang Kaleck, the head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights who provided legal support to Hanan, said the verdict was a disappointment for the plaintiff and his fellow villagers, but noted that judges had made clear that governments have a duty to at least investigate such cases.

“The bombardment and the dozens of civilian deaths didn’t result in a rebuke, there’s no resumption of the criminal case,” he told reporters after the court announced its decision. “On the other hand it will be very important internationally, also in future, that the European Convention on Human Rights applies,” Kaleck said. “That’s to say, those who conduct such military operations have to legally answer for them afterward, hopefully to a greater extent than in the Kunduz case.”

A separate legal effort to force Germany to pay more compensation than the $5,000 it has so far given families for each victim was rejected last year by the Federal Constitutional Court. This civil case can still be appealed in Strasbourg.





A Polish court on Monday ordered a record high compensation of nearly 13 million zlotys ($3.4 million) to a man who had spent 18 years in prison for a rape and murder of a teenager he didn’t commit.

Tomasz Komenda’s case has shocked Poland, and the right-wing government highlighted it as an example of why it says the justice system needs the deep changes it has been implementing.

Komenda, now in his mid-40s was arrested in 2000 over a 1997 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s village disco party. He was initially handed a 15-year prison term, which was later increased to 25 years, despite him protesting his innocence.

As a result of family efforts, the prosecutors reviewed the case and came to the conclusion that he couldn’t have committed the crime. Komenda was cleared after DNA tests, among other factors, showed that he wasn’t involved.

Komenda was acquitted of all charges and released in 2018, having wrongfully served 18 years of his term. He had been seeking 19 million zlotys ($5 million) in damages and in compensation.

A court in Opole ruled Monday that he should receive most of that amount — the highest ever compensation awarded in Poland. The verdict is subject to appeal.

Two other men have been convicted and handed 25-year prison terms in the 1997 case.  Komenda’s story was told in 2020 Polish movie “25 Years of Innocence. The Case of Tomek Komenda.”




A Paris court on Wednesday ruled that the French state failed to take sufficient action to fight climate change in a case brought by four nongovernmental organizations.

The NGOs cheered the decision as “historic” for their country and a boon to those elsewhere using the law to push their governments in the fight against global warming. The four organizations are Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire a Tous (Our Shared Responsibility).

In its ruling, the administrative court recognized ecological “deficiencies” linked to climate change and held the French state responsible for failing to fully meet its goals in reducing greenhouse gases.

The government said in a statement that it “took note” of the decision, and provided a list of actions in the pipeline to “allow France to respect in the future the objectives it set.”

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal went further, acknowledging at a regular briefing that the country has fallen behind on its goals.

“It’s perfectly fair to say that our country has been lagging behind these past years in the fight against climate change,” he responded to a question. But he added that “we are tackling these issues.” Among other things, he cited 30 billion euros earmarked for greener energy policies.

A bill is being introduced next week in the Cabinet that includes measures to support renovation of high energy-consuming buildings and encourage greener transport.

President Emmanuel Macron, who has been very vocal about his support for climate change action, pushed in December for beefing up the European Union’s 2030 targets to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 55% compared with 1990 levels ? up from the previous 40% target.

But Oxfam France, Greenpeace France and the two other organizations contended that Macron’s lobbying for global climate action is not backed up by sufficient domestic measures to curb emissions blamed for global warming.


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