Minister has say in war claims

The Supreme Court has dashed the hopes of survivors and relatives of victims of a Nazi massacre, ruling that the justice minister has to approve of their plans to auction German state property in Greece in order to exact reparations, the Athens News Agency reported on Sunday, quoting unnamed sources. The decision, to be published this summer, will end a long case that has proved an embarrassment to the government and raised tensions with Germany. The case has even led to court officers confiscating the buildings that house the Goethe Institute and the German Archaeology School in order to auction them. Courts, from a provincial magistrate’s court to the Supreme Court, have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, only to have the decisions overruled. The Supreme Court plenum decided by a majority vote to accept rapporteur Dionysios Katsireas’s proposal. It found that, according to Article 923 of the Code of Civil Jurisprudence, the Constitution demands the justice minister’s approval before a foreign country’s real estate in Greece can be confiscated. The government has said it will not approve such a move. The court also found the article not in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights. Survivors and relatives of the 214 men, women and children massacred at Distomo, in the central province of Viotia, on June 10, 1944 are asking for 27.5 million euros in compensation. The Special Supreme Court is still to decide whether Greek courts may consider cases against foreign countries. Eventually, the boat drifted into Greek waters, whereupon the immigrants were taken on board a rescue vessel and ferried to Chios.