Reparations now sought for Hortiatis

Relatives of many of the 147 occupants of the village of Hortiatis who were killed in a massacre by German troops during World War II, are seeking 5.5 billion drachmas in compensation from the German state. In a suit lodged with a Thessaloniki court on September 6, members of the Association of Survivors and Relatives of Hortiatis Holocaust Victims are claiming compensation for criminal acts by agents of the occupying force, acts which constituted an abuse of their power, in revenge for sabotage by resistance groups. These acts, on September 4, 1944, were directed at innocent citizens who had played no part in the sabotage, they said. It is the first time the 175 relatives of 93 victims of the village near Thessaloniki are claiming compensation. The case is to be tried on December 18, 2001, although it was reported that legal counsel for both sides may meet earlier to try and reach a compromise. On Monday, a Civil Court of Appeals in Athens blocked the auction of the Goethe Institute building in Athens and the German School of Archaeology. The auction had been approved by a Court of the First Instance after Germany refused to pay 9.4 billion drachmas in compensation to the relatives of 214 people massacred by Nazi troops at Distomo, central Greece, in 1944. The appellate court said the justice minister had to approve such an auction, something minister Michalis Stathopoulos has indicated he will not do. The Special Supreme Court is to discuss on November 21 whether Greek courts have the right to award damages against a foreign state, postponing the hearing yesterday. Papandreou stressed the need for public debate on the terrorist attacks and their aftermath to keep in mind Greece’s international image. It is especially important to safeguard our country’s image internationally, its international repute and its seriousness, avoiding public statements and formulating a joint position in dealing with terrorism, he said. He is to hold separate meetings with the ambassadors of Israel and Arab countries today.

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