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Apartheid suits involving German companies can proceed

A US judge has ruled that monetary damages can go ahead against five multinational companies, accused of helping South Africa uphold apartheid.

Old black South-African man

88-year-old Robert Molapo at the announcment of the 2002 lawsuit

A US judge has ruled that lawsuits seeking financial compensation can continue against five companies accused of aiding South Africa's former apartheid system of racial segregation.

US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin rejected requests by several countries that the lawsuits should not go ahead to protect relations between the United States and South Africa.

The judge, who issued the decision in writing on Wednesday, allowed claims made by tens of thousands of South African plaintiffs in two lawsuits in the US federal court to proceed against Germany's Daimler and Rheinmetall AG, as well as General Motors, Ford and IBM. The plaintiffs claim they were forced from their homes and resettled, arrested and imprisoned without cause and beaten and tortured by the authorities.

Plaintiffs seek unspecified monetary damages

Many more major corporations were initially sued in 2002, but the case was dismissed by a district judge, only to be reinstated by a Court of Appeals in 2007. The complaints were amended with fewer companies targeted. Judge Scheindlin stated in her ruling that corporate defendants accused of merely doing business with the apartheid government of South Africa were dismissed.

db/rm, dpa/reuters/lnw

DW.DE