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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 12:38 GMT
German court rejects hijack law
Plane crashes into Twin Towers
The 11 September attacks prompted proposals for new laws
Germany's constitutional court has scrapped a law allowing the military to shoot down passenger planes suspected of being hijacked for terror attacks.

The judge found that the law infringed the right to life and human dignity.

The government of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder proposed the law in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the US in 2001.

President Horst Koehler approved the controversial measure last year but urged the court to review it.

Poland was among other countries to adopt similar laws since the US hijackings.

The German law had been intended as a last resort when all other attempts to resolve such a situation had been exhausted. The federal government, not the military, would have had the final say.

Protection

However, critics argued that the government had no right to kill those on the plane to try to save the lives of others.

Germany's constitutional court president Hans-Juergen Papier ruled that: "The protection of the right to human dignity is strict and an infringement is not permissible."

He added that it violated a guarantee in the constitution barring German military services from being deployed for domestic security.

The German pilots' union was also against the law, saying it could lead to a tragic mistake.

Germany had its own scare in January 2003 when a 31-year-old psychology student stole a small plane and threatened to crash it into Frankfurt's skyscrapers. He landed at the city's airport after a couple of hours and was arrested without incident.


SEE ALSO:
German leader doubts hijack law
12 Jan 05 |  Europe


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