Court hears German appeal to stop property seizure

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The Independent Online

An Athens court on Friday reserved the right to issue a decision on an appeal to freeze the seizure of German state property intended to force the country into compensating relatives of Greeks executed by Nazi troops.

An Athens court on Friday reserved the right to issue a decision on an appeal to freeze the seizure of German state property intended to force the country into compensating relatives of Greeks executed by Nazi troops.

The court said would issue a ruling in about one month on the German request to stop the seizure and auctioning of its Athens property, which includes a cultural center, a high school and the German Archaeological School.

A court last July granted a temporary restraining order stopping any appraisals or seizures of Germany property after rejecting an appeal lodged by Ioannis Stamoulis, lawyer for the nearly 300 relatives.

The restraining order will remain in effect until the court issues its decision. The hearing lasted about 10 minutes and was attended by lawyers for the two sides.

Last April, Greece's Supreme Court upheld a 1997 ruling by a lower Greek court which awarded 9.4 billion drachmas (dlrs 25 million) as compensation to the relatives of 214 civilians executed by Nazi troops in June 1944 in the central Greek village of Distomo.

Germany has also been ordered to pay nearly 220 million drachmas (dlrs 603,000) to cover the prosecution's legal expenses.

Appraisals began in July with the Goethe Institut, Germany's cultural center, after Germany failed to respond to the decision. Appraisal of the Archaeological School was cut short by the court's ruling to freeze the seizure.

Greece's government has repeatedly said it will not allow the auctioning of any German property, insisting permission is needed from the justice minister before any foreign property can be seized.

Germany has said it paid Greece 115 million marks (dlrs 56 million) in the 1960s to compensate victims of the Nazi occupation under a treaty that ruled out further claims.

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