The German judiciary has not sufficiently dealt with the Kunduz airstrike case.
The German Ministry of Defense actively tried to influence possible criminal proceedings by initially withholding important documents and reports. There were several talks between the ministry and the originally responsible public prosecutor in Dresden in which the latter indicated he wished to raise important legal issues that had not yet been decided by the highest court. In the end, the Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office took advantage of a motion by the Ministry of Defense and dropped the case.
It was not until 15 March 2010, six months after the airstrike, that the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe opened an investigation. Only four weeks later, on 19 April 2010, the office issued a press release announcing that the proceedings had been closed on the grounds that there was no apparent violation of international or German criminal law.
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office essentially confined its factual inquiry to the question of Colonel Klein’s subjective perceptions and assessments, without questioning their basis. Only four witnesses – no victims or eyewitnesses – were interviewed. The circumstances surrounding the attack were not taken into account, nor was the question of whether Colonel Klein took sufficient precautions during the attack adequately addressed.
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office did not conduct its own investigations on the ground, and instead referred mostly to military information and lists of victims compiled by an Afghan investigative commission, which, in the view of those affected and their counsel, were insufficient and riddled with errors.
In June 2015, the Federal Constitutional Court confirmed that Colonel Klein credibly stated that he considered the Kunduz base to be in danger, and had no information about civilians on the sandbank.