A district court in Bonn, Germany on Wednesday rejected a case brought by the families of victims of an airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan that had been initiated by members of the German armed forces. The court argued that the German government was not liable for the deaths.
In September 2009, two tanker trucks that had been hijacked by members of the Taliban were bombed at the request of Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, by two American fighter jets. The Bundeswehr believes that 91 people died in the incident. NATO stated in a report that it believes there were 142 dead or injured. Lawyers working on behalf of the victims claim 137 people died. What is certain is that it was one of the most devastating attacks linked to German troops since the end of World War II.
Bremen-based lawyers Karim Popal and Peter Derleder sued the German government on behalf of the victims for a total of around €90,000 in damages. The Bundeswehr had already paid around half a million euros in voluntary compensation.
On the evening of Sept. 3, 2009, Bundeswehr Colonel Georg Klein learned that insurgents nearby had hijacked two tanker trucks. The officer assumed that the fuel tanks on the trucks would be used as bombs against German troops, so his forward air controller ordered American fighter jets to attack under the rules of the deployment.
Criminal proceedings against Klein had been dropped by the Federal Prosecutor's Office in 2010, based on information in the classified final report on the attacks that reportedly exonerated the officer.