Yemeni family sues Obama and officials over drone strike

Yemeni family sues Obama and officials over drone strike
The family of two Yemenis killed by a drone strike in 2012 have filed a claim against the US government, weeks after their case was thrown out in Germany.
2 min read
09 June, 2015
At least 65 civilians have been killed in US drone strikes in Yemen (AFP)

A Yemeni family is suing the US government over the deaths of relatives in a drone strike, weeks after a German court rejected its claim that Berlin colluded in the deaths.

The claim by Faisal bin Ali Jaber names the US president, Barack Obama, former defence secretary Leon Panetta and former CIA director David Petraeus as defendants.

It says the US violated "the laws of war and [the] norms of customary international law" when a drone targeted the village of Khashamir in eastern Yemen in 2012, killing Faisal's relatives, Salem bin Ali Jaber and Waleed bin Ali Jaber, an anti-al-Qaeda imam and a police officer respectively.

Last month a German court rejected the family's claim that Berlin was partyly responsible for their deaths, by allowing the US to run an operations unit at the Ramstein base.

The US has used drone strikes in Yemen to target al-Qaeda militants, but there have been numerous cases of civilian casualties.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has confirmed at least 65 civilian deaths from US drones since 2011, and the actual number of civilians killed is thought to be higher.

Faisal received a letter from the Yemeni president Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who has defended the US drone strikes, acknowledging that Salem and Waleed were "mistakenly killed in an airstrike".

The families of the victims have also received compensation, believed to be around $150,000, from the Yemeni government, which may have originally come from the US.

The latest lawsuit filed in the US does not include a request for financial compensation, and instead asks for an apology, comparing the case to a drone strike which mistakenly killed two western hostages in Pakistan in January, something that Obama apologised publicly for.