German 'won't shoot down' 9/11-style planes

31st March 2006, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2006, BERLIN - Germany's defence minister said in remarks to be published Saturday he would only order the shooting down of an aircraft in a 9/11-style suicide attack if all the people on board were "terrorists."

31 March 2006

BERLIN - Germany's defence minister said in remarks to be published Saturday he would only order the shooting down of an aircraft in a 9/11-style suicide attack if all the people on board were "terrorists."

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung's statement comes after Germany's highest court this year overturned a law allowing hijacked airliners to be shot down to prevent them being used as in the 2001 attacks on the United States.

Judges said Germany's Basic Law did not allow the military to aid police in this manner and that passengers in plane being shot down would have their constitutionally guaranteed right-to-life violated.

Jung said he could still order the killing of attackers in order to prevent further deaths.

"I must and would order the shooting down of a plane occupied exclusively by terrorists if they were aiming to use the aircraft as a weapons against our territory," said Jung in an interview with Bonn's General Anzeiger newspaper.

But he was careful not to buck the court ruling and indicated he could not shoot down hijacked planes with passengers on board.

"I respect the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court judges," he declared.

Germany's aircraft shoot-down law was passed in 2003 after a deranged man buzzed Frankfurt's skyscrapers with a light aircraft.

Even with the law on the books there were doubts if Germany's underfunded air force was up to the task of homeland security.

Another light aircraft was crashed into the lawn between the Reichstag and chancellery last July by a man in an apparent case of suicide. German fighter jets and Berlin police helicopters failed to intercept the plane as it circled the government district before going into a crash dive.

The court ruling has raised concerns ahead of the football World Cup which is being hosted by Germany from June 9 to July 9 because there is no legal basis to shoot down a hijacked plane if it was being flown toward a packed football stadium.

The World Cup National Security Concept blueprint, prepared by the German Interior Ministry, warns there are "raised risks" of passenger airliners being used as "a means" to carry out attacks.

"In view of international terrorism developments we must act on the assumption that there is a general threat to air transport from terrorist groups," says the paper.

DPA

Subject: German news

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