Germany warned Monday of severe consequences should its immunity as a state be breached if the UN's highest court allows Italian civil courts to rule on compensation for Nazi war crimes. "The consequences would be severe," the director-general for legal affairs in Germany's foreign ministry, Susanne Wasum-Rainer, told judges of the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Germany and Italy are arguing their cases before the ICJ this week, after Berlin in December 2008 filed an application to ask the court to order Rome to stop its courts from hearing compensation claims for Third Reich war crimes.

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