Court blocks Goethe Institute auction

The auction of the Goethe Institute building and the German School of Archaeology will not be held tomorrow as scheduled, following a decision by the Civil Court of Appeals that Justice Minister Michalis Stathopoulos would first have to approve of the auction. A Court of the First Instance had approved of the auction of the German state property in May after Germany refused to pay 9.4 billion drachmas in compensation to the relatives of 214 people murdered by German troops at Distomo, central Greece, in 1944. The German state’s lawyers had appealed the lower court’s decision, arguing that aside from the fact that Greek courts do not have extraterritorial jurisdiction the justice minister had to give his permission for the auctioning of the German property. The court’s members accepted this argument. But Ioannis Stamoulis, the lawyer for the victims’ relatives, called the decision provocatively contrary to the law of the human rights court and said he will ask the Supreme Court to rescind it. The justice minister does not appear likely to sign the decision allowing the auction. Stathopoulos has also refused to allow the auctioning of Iraqi state property demanded by a Greek lawyer. Also yesterday, the Supreme Court’s A Section heard the case of Distomo relatives protesting against the decision to send the issue of extraterritoriality to the Special Supreme Court. The relatives have called for the exemption of Supreme Court President Stefanos Matthias from the A Section and from the Special Supreme Court.

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