May 27, 2015 / 1:56 PM / 4 years ago

German court rejects complaint from Yemeni drone victims

COLOGNE (Reuters) - A German court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by a Yemeni family against the German government for allowing the United States to coordinate drone attacks in Yemen from a U.S. military base in Ramstein.

Human rights groups argue the German government is breaching the country’s constitution by letting the United States use the Air Force base in southwestern Germany for drone attacks abroad.

The three plaintiffs, who were not present during the court’s hearing, have said they lost two relatives during a drone strike in Yemen in August 2012.

Presiding Judge Hildegund Caspari-Wierzoch said that Berlin had repeatedly urged Washington to respect German as well as international law on its military bases in the country and that Washington had promised to do so.

The complaint was therefore baseless, the judge said. But she added that the court’s authority was limited, and noted German security could be damaged if cooperation with the U.S. military at its military base was stopped.

The lawyer for the Yemeni plaintiffs, Soenke Hilbrans, said he was going to appeal the Administrative Court of Cologne’s decision.

The complaint was supported by the European Center of Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the human rights organisation Reprieve.

Reprieve said it was seeking measures by Germany to stop the use of German territory for what it views as illegal actions by the United States in Yemen.

U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized use of drones against militant groups abroad deemed a threat. Civilians are sometimes killed, a toll Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have estimated is in the dozens in Yemen and Pakistan alone.

Reporting by Annelie Palmen; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Larry King

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