A Somali man is suing the German government over his father’s death in an alleged drone strike that was coordinated from the US Air Force’s Ramstein base in Germany.
The plaintiff’s appeal got underway on 13th March at the higher regional court in Muenster, a city in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The plaintiff, the son of a Somali man who reportedly died in a drone strike carried out in his native country in 2012, is suing the German state for its part in the alleged attack.
Pictures Credit: CEN
According to reports, the strike was coordinated from the Ramstein Air Base which serves as headquarters for the United States Air Forces in Europe.
The Somali plaintiff, whose name has not been reported, had previously lost the case at a regional court in Cologne in 2016, but decided to appeal the decision.
The court found that the German state could not be held liable for the alleged US drone strike which was intended to target the East African jihadist fundamentalist group Al-Shabaab, while also recognising that the plaintiff’s father was a tragic civilian victim of the attack.
However, the Somali man argues that the German state has violated its duty to protect civilians as guaranteed under the country’s constitution.
Journalist John Goetz of the German public broadcaster ARD, who researches US drone attacks in Somalia, was invited as a witness.
In a separate case with a similar background, the court will also hear from three plaintiffs from Yemen who allegedly lost relatives in a US drone strike in 2012.
According to reports, the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) supports their case.
ECCHR spokesman Andreas Schueller said: “We want to clearly understand the role Ramstein plays in this drone war.”
Ramstein Air Base has been the target of frequent protests by anti-war groups and activists who condemn the use of drones to kill enemy combatants.
According to the New York Times citing US military data, 225 people have been killed in Somalia in 24 strikes in the first months of 2019 alone. In 2018, 326 people were killed in 47 attacks against Islamic terrorist cells.
The trial is continuing.