Italy 'breached obligations' in Nazi claims row: UN court

Italy 'breached obligations' in Nazi claims row: UN court

THE HAGUE - Agence France-Presse
Italy breached obligations in Nazi claims row: UN court

General view of the court showing the judges, rear, the delegation of Germany, front row right, and the delegation of Italy, front row left, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday Feb. 3, 2012, as the International Court of Justice delivered its judgment in a dispute between Germany and Italy over World War II reparations. AP photo

Italian courts breached its obligations under international law by allowing civil claims in local courts for Nazi war crimes compensation, the UN's highest court ruled Friday.

"The court therefore holds that the action of Italian courts in denying immunity constitutes a breach of the obligation owed to the German state," International Court of Justice judge Hisashi Owada said at a public hearing in The Hague.

The two European Union members have been locked in a legal battle since December 2008, when Germany filed an application before the court after an avalanche of lawsuits by Italian relatives and widows for Third Reich abuses.

The cases sought compensation for deportations of Italians and other acts by German troops during World War II after the former Axis partner switched sides and joined the Allies in September 1943.

Berlin said that by permitting claims for abuses that occurred between September 1943 and May 1945, Italy "failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity" that modern-day Germany enjoys under international law.

Italy on the other hand, argued that the cases were admissible as abuses committed by German troops amounted to "international crimes" which have precedence over state immunity.