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UN court upholds German immunity for Nazi crimes

The International Court of Justice ruled today that Germany is legally immune from being sued in foreign courts by victims of Nazi war crimes.

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People walk in front of a big wall draped with flags with Nazi symbols in Berlin's Lustgarten in front of the Old Museum. A new study has found that 20 percent of Germans still harbor latent anti-Semitism. (Carsten Koall/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled today that Germany is legally immune from being sued in foreign courts by victims of Nazi war crimes, the Associated Press reported.

The decision, handed down in the UN's highest court, came after Germany requested that Italy be ordered to stop its courts from admitting compensation claims for Nazi atrocities.

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Germany appealed to the ICJ in 2008, after Italy's supreme court ruled that Luigi Ferrini, a former slave laborer, was entitled to reparations for his deportation to Germany in 1944.

Reading aloud the verdict, judge Hisashi Owada said the Italian supreme court had violated Germany's sovereignty in the Ferrini case, the BBC reported.

Germany has paid tens of billions of dollars in reparations since the 1950s, and the IJC ruling holds that Italy was wrong to allow its courts to make such compensation claims.

This comes after Berlin last year argued there would be “severe consequences” if these type of claims continued to be heard in Italian courts.

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German lawyers said that by permitting claims for WWII abuses, Italy "failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity" that modern-day Germany enjoys under international law, Agence France Presse reported.

But Italy had argued that the claims were admissible, the BBC reported, because the Nazi atrocities amounted to "international crimes," which took precedence over a country's immunity.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/120203/un-court-icj-german-immunity-nazi-war-crimes