'German flights over Turkey during Iraq war illegal'

Germany's highest court ruled Wednesday that the decision to deploy German crews on NATO surveillance flights over Turkey during the Iraq war was illegal.

'German flights over Turkey during Iraq war illegal'

The federal constitutional court in this southwestern city said the center- left government of then chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had violated the country's Basic Law by supplying pilots without consulting parliament.

The ruling upheld a five-year-old complaint by the opposition Free Democrats, who had tried and failed to stop the deployment in March 2003.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization dispatched AWACS surveillance aircraft to Turkey as part of an agreement to protect the country, a member of the alliance, against any attack by Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion.

Schroeder's government agreed to allow German pilots man some of the aircraft without putting the issue to a vote in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

Germany fiercely opposed the war on Iraq and refused to take any part, but critics said the crews' participation in the AWACS flights was tantamount to joining the conflict.

The constitutional court said Wednesday that parliament must have a say in such decisions if it is likely that German soldiers will be drawn into combat as part of a mission.

"It is important that the responsibility for the deployment of armed troops remains in the hands of the representative body of the people," the parliament, the judges said in the ruling.

The decision is unlikely to have any legal consequences for Schroeder or other members of his government but will influence the military policy-making of future administrations.

Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Mayıs 2008, 08:54
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