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Finance minister invites Holocaust survivors for talks

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, has invited two Holocaust survivors for private talks to discuss their compensation claims. Charles Sonabend (pictured) and his sister Sabine have made claims against the government for expelling them in 1942.

The finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, has invited two Holocaust survivors for private talks to discuss their compensation claims. Charles Sonabend (pictured) and his sister Sabine made separate claims against the government for expelling them and their parents in 1942.

Their claims are based on their parents' death in the concentration camp, Auschwitz, after they were forced to leave Switzerland. Charles Sonabend's claim for SFr100,000 in compensation has already been rejected but a decision on his sister's claim has not yet been made.

A finance ministry spokesman said the government was now considering paying legal costs to the Sonabends, based on a precedent set by the case of the Holocaust survivor, Joseph Spring. The Federal Court ruled on January 21 that the Swiss government did not break the law by expelling Spring, but awarded him SFr100,000.

The spokesman for Kaspar Villiger said the government submitted a written suggestion to the Sonabends' lawyer, Marc Richter, suggesting a solution. But Richter said the finance ministry had offered a sum well below SFr200,000 to the Sonabends which was unacceptable as the brother and sister should be given SFr100,000 each.

A date for the meeting between Villiger and the Sonabends has not been set yet.

swissinfo with agencies

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