Friday, September 16, 2011

ICJ Concludes Hearings in Italy v. Germany

The International Court of Justice completed public hearings today of a German complaint against Italy over Italian court awards of damages to victims of Nazi war crimes committed nearly 60 years ago, and said it will soon render its verdict.

Germany said it had already paid reparations under international treaties with Italy and argued that as a sovereign State it has immunity in Italian courts. At the same time it fully acknowledged the untold suffering inflicted on Italians during World War ll.  Germany asked the ICJ to adjudge that Italy “must, by means of its own choosing, take any and all steps to ensure that all the decisions of its courts and other judicial authorities infringing Germany’s sovereign immunity become unenforceable.”

Italy asked the ICJ to adjudge Germany’s claims to be unfounded.

Germany filed the case in December 2008 after a court in Italy ordered Berlin to compensate an Italian civilian sent to a German labour camp in 1944, claiming that the ruling failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity that present-day Germany has a right to under international law.  After that ruling, numerous other proceedings were instituted before Italian courts by others who had suffered injury due to the war, and enforcement measures have already been taken against German assets in Italy, including a “judicial mortgage” on a German-Italian cultural centre, the Villa Vigoni.

In its presentation seeking dismissal of Germany’s claims Italy said it “has no objection to any decision by the court obliging Italy to ensure that the mortgage on Villa Vigoni inscribed at the land registry is cancelled.”  Under various agreements, Germany has paid tens of millions of dollars in reparations for crimes committed during World War II.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)

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