Yemeni relatives of U.S. drone strike victims bring case to German court

Faisal Ali Bin Jaber, a relative of victims of drone strikes, wears a shirt with anti-drone strike slogans as he attends the opening ceremony of the National Organization for the Victims of Drones in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (File: AP)

A German court will next week hear a case against the government brought by the relatives of victims who died in a 2012 U.S. drone attack in Yemen, UK newspaper the Guardian reported.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim - a preacher who reportedly spoke out against Al Qaeda - and his nephew Waleed in a drone strike after they travelled to eastern Yemen for a wedding.

Lawyers appointed by Jaber and two other Yemenis say the German government shares the responsibility for their relatives’ deaths because a U.S. military base in Germany allegedly played a key role in the attack, a claim the government rejects.

The United States military is allowed to use Ramstein air base, in operation since 1952, on the condition that no actions in the base violate German law.

Lawyers are building their case around reports that Ramstein sends crucial information via satellite to drone operators in the United States that enable communication with unmanned aircraft in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere.

The reports, by German newspaper Der Speigel and U.S news website the Intercept, cite experts but the United States is yet to confirm or deny these claims.

Fifty-six-year-old Jaber, a civil engineer, said in a video statement issued through London-based human rights organization Reprieve that he hoped the German government would recognize its role in the attacks.

“Ramstein airbase on German soil … provided information and other logistical support to the aviation operations and therefore it is complicit in one way or another,” he said.

Complicity in such operations contradicts all the allegations that (Germany) upholds the principles of human rights. I’d expect from the German government, and I’d humbly ask, that it stops its cooperation with the US government regarding these strikes,” he added.

He described his brother-in-law as a respected imam who had preached openly against Al Qaeda, the Guardian reported.

“We hope that German justice will be robustly administered and will prevail and this will be a significant step towards the end of civilian casualties and the suffering of Yemenis as a result of the U.S.’s illegal drone program, in which Ramstein appears to play a pivotal role,” Kat Craig, the legal director of Reprieve said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44