Prosecution of US Soldier Case

CourtCourt of Appeal of Stuttgart (Germany)
Federal Republic of Germany, Court of Appeals of Stuttgart
Prosecution of U.S. Soldier Case

Treaties Conclusion and operation Ratification of treaties Entry into force Provisional application Statute and Supplementary Agreement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, 1951 Administrative Agreement between United States and Federal Republic of Germany Parties agreeing to apply terms of Agreement before ratification Effect in municipal law Jurisdiction of German courts to try U.S. soldier The law of the Federal Republic of Germany

Summary: The facts:The defendant,1 an United States national, was a member of the United States Armed Forces stationed in Germany. He was convicted of negligence regarding a traffic offence and was fined 100 German marks. He appealed from this decision of the District Court, alleging a material error in the legal procedures provided for in the Statute of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) of 19 June 1951.

Held:The appeal must fail. Contrary to the defendant's view the German courts were competent in cases involving members of the United States Armed Forces providing:

(a) the offence in question was not punishable with imprisonment;

(b) the accused was not under the influence of alcohol at the time the offence occurred; and

(c) the offence was not committed during the course of an official assignment.

Further the Court held that a German-American Administrative Agreement, containing relevant regulations, could be applied before its ratification.

The following is the text of the relevant part of the judgment:

[The Court stated the facts as outlined above and continued:]

The defendant contends that these proceedings, according to the NATO Statute of 19 June 1951 [Bundesgesetzblatt 1961 II, 1183, 1190], do not lie within the competence of German jurisdiction. This contention is false.

According to Article VII paragraph 2b of the NATO Statute, this case lies within exclusive German jurisdiction.

It is true that Article 17 of the Supplementary Agreement of the NATO Statute [Bundesgesetzblatt 1961 II, 1183, 1218] requires the German authorities to obtain, prior to the commencement of legal proceedings, a certificate from the U.S. authorities, stating that the violation committed does not constitute a criminal offence according to U.S. law. In order to facilitate this procedure, a German-American Administrative Agreement, concerning legal procedures regulated by the NATO Statute and its supplementary agreements has been...

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