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Greek survivors of a Nazi wartime massacre lost a legal battle for compensation Wednesday when the European Court of Human Rights ruled against their claim, which the Greek government had backed.
During the German occupation of Greece in World War Two, Waffen-SS troops burnt the village of Distomo to the ground and killed 218 civilians in retaliation for an attack by partisans.
Four villagers who survived the June, 1944 massacre as children filed an initial claim for reparations in courts in Germany and Greece in the 1990s. The German claim was rejected and Greece’s then government declined to enforce a ruling in favour from its court.
They appealed to Germany’s constitutional court, which ruled against them in 2006.
They then took a final appeal to the human rights court in Strasbourg, which the government of George Papandreou supported in January, drawing criticism from ministers in Berlin.
The court said in a ruling published Wednesday that the European convention on human rights placed no obligation on member states to make reparations for acts committed by predecessor states.
Germany paid Greece $67 million in war reparations in the 1960s and has since refused to pay any more, fearing such a move would open the floodgates for more demands from other countries.