German Federal Prosecutor ‘investigating’ US actions on drones base

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German Federal Prosecutor ‘investigating’ US actions on drones base

LONDON - The German Federal Prosecutor is reported to have begun investigating a US base in Germany that is used as a ‘hub’ for drone strikes, days after a Yemeni man testified in a Cologne court about the 2012 strike that killed his relatives.

According to a report in Der Spiegel, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office – Germany’s highest prosecuting authority – has launched a ‘monitoring process’ to ascertain whether activities at Ramstein, a US base in Germany, violate international law. The officials have reportedly requested documents from German authorities, including the Ministry of Defence, relating to the base – which was recently revealed to be a ‘hub’ for the facilitation of drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere. US drone strikes in countries such as Yemen, where the US has not declared war, have killed hundreds of civilians, and are widely regarded as a violation of international law.

The news comes days after a court in Cologne heard testimony from a Yemeni man who lost his relatives in a strike – the first time any court has heard from drone victims. Faisal bin Ali Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim, an anti-Al Qaeda preacher, and his nephew Waleed, a police officer, to a 2012 US strike on his village of Khashamir. The German case sees Mr bin Ali Jaber – represented by international human rights organization Reprieve and the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) – seeking to challenge Germany’s failure to stop the use of Ramstein for US drone strikes. Although the court last week ruled against Mr bin Ali Jaber, judges agreed with his assertion that it is ‘plausible’ the base is central to the launching of the strikes, and gave him immediate permission to appeal their decision.

Commenting, Kat Craig, Mr bin Ali Jaber’s Reprieve lawyer, said: "The civilian impact of the US’ drone wars in Yemen and elsewhere is well-documented – as is the crucial role played by Ramstein in facilitating these illegal strikes. The prosecutor’s move to investigate the use of German soil in violating international law is a crucial first step in lifting the veil of secrecy over the drone programme. For Faisal – and the scores of other people whose relatives were unlawfully killed in drone strikes – this decision is long overdue. Nothing will bring back their loved ones, but a full and proper investigation into the role of Ramstein will finally shed some light on the role of the German government in the drone programme. Our clients hope that, in doing so, Germany will do the right thing and withdraw support for the US’ drone war, once and for all."

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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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