German lawyers file genocide complicity case against German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

German lawyers file genocide complicity case against German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
German lawyers representing Gazan families have filed a criminal complaint against German officials for supplying Israel with weapons that aid and abet genocide
3 min read
23 February, 2024
The filing of the complaints against members of Germany's government comes in the midst growing coverage of its pro-Israel bias and crackdown on pro-Palestinian voices [GETTY]

German lawyers representing Gaza Palestinian families have filed a criminal complaint against German officials - including Chancellor Olaf Scholz - for supplying Israel with weapons that they say aid and abet Israel's ongoing genocide in their homeland.

Prosecutors from the Federal Prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe will examine the case, and if it goes ahead will open an investigation and question government officials including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock, Minister of Finance Christian Lindner, and members of the Bundessicherheitsrat, the government body that authorizes Germany's arms export licenses.

The German lawyers pursuing the case are supported by civil society organizations such as the European Legal Support Center (ELSC), the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy, and Law for Palestine under the Justice and Accountability for Palestine Initiative.

In a press statement, the Justice and Accountability for Palestine Initiative said “Germany, like other Third States, has a clear obligation to prevent genocide and German State officials should use their leverage and employ all lawful means at their disposal to influence Israel to refrain from genocidal acts. German criminal law requires a ground for initial suspicion when it comes to the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

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Nora Ragab, an activist with Gaza relatives, is among the plaintiffs in the case.

“We, Palestinians in the diaspora, will not stand by and watch a genocide being committed against our families and our people. We will use all means at our disposal, from protests on the streets to lawsuits in criminal courts. Today we aim to hold the German government accountable for its complicity in the genocide in Gaza.”

German defence export approvals to Israel have increased nearly tenfold since October 7, according to a Reuters report. Israel has been approved to import close to 323 million euros worth of German defence equipment as of November 2.

The new legal challenge follows ongoing court cases against Israel and those seen as complicit in its actions around the world. This includes a high-profile case at the World Court in the Hague where South Africa has triggered a genocide case against Israel. 

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Germany has said it will intervene at the International Court of Justice on Israel’s behalf.  Namibia condemned its former colonial ruler Germany and perpetrator of the Namibian genocide for rejecting the case at the UN's top court.

Another hearing was launched at the UN court on Monday in which -  at least - 52 countries began presenting arguments on Israel's occupation policies in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and occupied East Jerusalem. 

UN experts on Firday called for an immediate halt in arms exports to the Israeli state, warning that they would be likely “to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately”.

A German government spokesperson provided the following statement to the New Arab.

“The German government is by no means turning a blind eye to the great suffering that this conflict is causing the people of the Gaza Strip. We therefore repeatedly call for the Palestinians in Gaza to be given better access to humanitarian aid and for the civilian population to be better protected during military operations. We are also calling for humanitarian ceasefires and corridors”.

In response to the criminal complaint against German officials that Germany was allegedly aiding and abetting genocide by providing Israel with weapons, the spokesperson said,“the Federal Government decides on the granting of licenses for arms exports on a case-by-case basis and depending on the situation after careful examination, taking into account foreign and security policy considerations."

This article has been updated to include the German government's response