German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has provoked outrage by warning that he would be prepared give the order to shoot down a hijacked aircraft if it posed a threat in German airspace.
Jung freely acknowledged that there was currently no constitutional backing for an order of this kind and that there was no consensus on the issue within the governing coalition.
But he said in an interview with the magazine Focus he would make use of emergency powers in an exceptional case.
"If there is no other way, I would give the order to shoot down (an aircraft) in order to protect our citizens," the defence minister said.
Dieter Wiefelspuetz, internal affairs spokesman for the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partner in the government, rejected Jung's remarks outright.
"The defence minister has to respect constitutional law," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2007, 19:09