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European Rights Court Backs Germany Over Afghan Air Strike Case

Police officers inspect the site of the September 2009 air strike in Kunduz, which had been ordered by a German commander who feared the Taliban could use the fuel tankers to carry out attacks.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on February 16 rejected a complaint against German authorities’ decision not to prosecute an officer who ordered a deadly air strike in northern Afghanistan in September 2009.

Dozens of Afghan civilians died when U.S. jets bombed two fuel tankers NATO believed were hijacked by Taliban forces in the northern province of Kunduz.

The strike was ordered by a German commander who feared the militant group could use the trucks to carry out attacks.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR rejected a complaint by Abdul Hanan, an Afghan man who lost two sons in the air strike, that Germany failed to conduct an effective investigation into the tragedy.

The plaintiff also alleged that no “effective domestic remedy” to that had been available in Germany.

In its ruling, the ECHR said German federal prosecutors were “able to rely on a considerable amount of material concerning the circumstances and the impact” of the air strike.

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

Of 9,600 NATO troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

The death toll of the 2009 air strike shocked Germany and ultimately forced its defense minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the runup to the country’s 2009 election.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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