EU court rejects WWII claims

Europe’s highest court rejected arguments yesterday by Greek citizens seeking compensation from Germany for a World War II massacre in the northern Peloponnese town of Kalavryta. The descendants of 696 people executed by the German army on December 13, 1943, brought the case to the European Court of Justice after Greek courts said they lacked jurisdiction. The descendants, led by Irini Lechouritou, have been fighting since 1995 in Greek courts to secure compensation for financial loss, non-material damage and mental anguish. An earlier bid was rejected on the grounds that such cases could not be brought against a sovereign state. The family members then took their case to an appeals court, which asked the European Court of Justice if the case could be considered under a 1968 convention on the enforcement of civil and commercial matters. However, the Luxembourg-based court ruled that military actions carried by state authorities do not fall within the scope of civil matters covered by the agreement. «In the present case, operations conducted by armed forces are a characteristic emanation of state sovereignty,» the European Court of Justice said. «Consequently, a legal action such as that brought by Ms Lechouritou and other plaintiffs for compensation in respect of loss and damage caused by such operations does not fall within the scope of the Brussels Convention.» The case is expected to now go back to the court in Patras for a decision. Relatives of Greeks killed by the Nazis have filed tens of thousands of lawsuits against Germany claiming reparations, but Greece’s highest court ruled in 2002 that such compensation claims against a foreign state cannot be heard in Greece.