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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 11:57 GMT
Serb families lose Nato court bid
Wreckage of Varvarin bridge
Planes attacked the bridge in two waves
Serbian families who tried to sue Germany over a Nato bombing raid have lost their case, a German court ruled.

The 1999 bombing of a bridge at Varvarin, 110 miles (180km) south-east of Belgrade, killed 10 and injured 17.

A total of 35 people sued Germany, saying that although German planes did not take part in the raids, the government held responsibility under its Nato membership.

They had sought one million euros ($1.2m) in compensation.

Nato says the attack on the bridge, during its campaign to drive Serb forces from Kosovo, was legitimate.

But the families said the raid violated the international Geneva conventions, since it came without warning and was carried out on a busy market day.

An initial raid killed three people, but the planes returned minutes later, killing seven more.

Some of the victims of the second attack were trying to help victims of the first wave of bombing.

Berlin argued that it was not liable since neither German planes nor German pilots were involved.

Lawyers said a German court was chosen because the families had support from human rights activists in Germany.

The suit was seen as a possible test case for others seeking damages from Nato countries.




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