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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Greeks lose Nazi massacre claim
More than 200 people were killed by the Nazis in Distomo
Germany's highest court has rejected claims for compensation over the massacre of more than 200 Greek villagers during Nazi wartime occupation.

The Federal Criminal Court said there was no legal basis for individual compensation from the German Government, which has already paid Greece 115m marks ($68m in current rates) in the 1960s to compensate victims of the Nazis.

The case was brought by four relatives of victims of the massacre in Distomo, on 10 June 1944, carried out by Hitler's Waffen-SS

Survivors have said that in the two-hour door-to-door massacre - said to be in revenge for a partisan attack - SS forces bayoneted babies in their cribs, stabbed pregnant women and beheaded the village priest.

A ruling in favour of the claims would have exposed Germany to reparation demands for billions of dollars.

"Presiding judge Eberhard Rinne said: "This massacre is one of the most despicable crimes of World War II.

"Moral or humanitarian aspects could not play a role because the case could only be considered according to the limited means of the law."

The claims by victims' relatives had already been turned down by lower courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

None of the relatives was present at the ruling. One of their lawyers said they may now refer the case to Germany's Federal Constitutional Court.



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