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Government settles with Jewish refugees

Charles Sonabend, who was deported from Switzerland with his sister and parents in 1942.

(Keystone)

The Swiss government has reached an out-of-court settlement with two Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, whose parents died in a Nazi concentration camp after being deported from Switzerland in 1942.

The government agreed to pay Charles Sonabend and his sister, Sabine, SFr200,000 to cover their legal costs. In exchange, the Sonabends are withdrawing their lawsuit.

In 1997, Charles had filed for SFr100,000 in damages, for the death of his parents, after the government rejected his complaint on the grounds that too much time had elapsed.

A statement by the finance ministry said the agreement was based on a federal court ruling in a similar case last year. The court rejected a SFr100,000 claim for compensation by Joseph Spring, saying Switzerland could not be held responsible for what happened to him after he was deported to Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War.

However, at the same time, the court awarded Spring the SFr100,000 he had asked for, to cover his costs.

The statement said the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, and the interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, had invited Charles and Sabine Sonabend to Berne for talks to outline the government's position on their case and to express its sympathy and regret.

The Sonabend family fled Nazi-occupied Belgium in 1942 and was staying with friends in Switzerland when they were arrested and then deported. They were later arrested by the Germans and the parents sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where they were executed.

swissinfo with agencies


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