NEWS

Delay in German reparations case?

It appears that the September 19 hearing of the Special Supreme Court, which is to have the last word on whether Greek courts can award German reparations to Greek citizens, will be postponed. Sources said that the court’s rapporteur wanted more time to prepare for the very complicated case. Lower courts have awarded 9.4 billion drachmas in German compensation to the relatives of 214 victims of a Nazi massacre at Distomo in 1944. The Goethe Institute and German school of archaeology were scheduled to be auctioned this coming Tuesday to raise the funds for compensation. But sources from the side representing the German state said that a temporary injunction against this had been accepted and the decision would be published on Monday. The reparations issue has become a thorn in relations between Athens and Berlin, with German officials warning that the auctioning of German property will lead to a crisis and calling for the Greek government to intervene. Prime Minister Costas Simitis said last Sunday that the government could do nothing while the issue was sub judice, drawing fire from the supporters of the claimants who accused the government of inertia. The claimants also want Supreme Court president Stephanos Matthias to be excluded from presiding over the Special Supreme Court. They argue that he was in the dissenting minority when the A Section of the Supreme Court ruled that they were due reparations and that he then sent the issue before the Special Supreme Court in an effort to block their effort to claim compensation. Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens struck a sour note in a sermon at a suburban church yesterday when he suggested the attacks had been provoked. You see what things can come to, you see the tragic consequences of desperate acts, such as the terrorist actions in the United States. We are all horrified at what point a person may reach, where repeated injustices that occur in the world can drive people, Christodoulos said. Of course, the innocent victims of this tragedy were not to blame for anything. But the people of responsibility and power must consider that someday they cannot act with license and without respect toward the justice of God and men. When there is justice there will be peace, he said.