German court rejects Yemenis' case over US drone killings
A German court has rejected a lawsuit brought by three Yemeni men who lost two relatives in a U.S. drone strike. The men, who weren't in court Wednesday, accuse the German government of letting the United States use an air base in Germany for lethal drone strikes.
Imam Salim bin Ali Jaber, and his cousin, Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber, who was a policeman, were killed in the village of Khashamir in eastern Yemen when five US missiles launched from drones exploded.
While Washington believed the victims had connections with Al-Qaeda, it is known that the imam had urged residents to stand-up to the extremists and had no connections with the terrorist group.
Faisal, Ahmed Saeed and Walid Abdullah bin Ali Jaber, who brought the case to court, insist that the deceased, their family members, were strong opponents of Al-Qaeda.
The men, who are being represented by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and rights group Reprieve, wanted Germany to accept legal and political responsibility for the strikes and stop the U.S. from using the Ramstein base in southwestern Germany, which serves as HQ for the United States Air Forces in Europe. Built back in 1948, it is responsible for most of the US global Drone program.
Reprieve's legal director, Kat Craig, says there's strong evidence Ramstein is used to relay flight control data from pilots in the United States to drones in the Mideast.
In April 2014, a former US Air Force drone pilot testified that Washington was using the base as its nerve centre for drone warfare in Africa, Yemen and Pakistan.
“The entire drone war of the US military wouldn't be possible without Germany," Brandon Bryant, who resigned in 2011, told NDR television and the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
The Cologne administrative court ruled Wednesday that treaties meant German authorities had only limited influence on Ramstein's use, and had to balance their actions with "foreign and defense policy interests."
The German government denies U.S. air bases in Germany are used for extrajudicial killings. The US has conducted over one hundred drone strikes in Yemen since 2002; Reprieve, according to their research, suggest that the ‘targeted killing’ program kills many more people than its targets, often requiring multiple strikes.
The men plan to appeal.