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Denmark Told To Compensate Inuits

August 20, 1999

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) _ A Copenhagen court on Friday ordered the government to pay $71,400 in compensation to Greenland Inuits who were forced out of their homes when a U.S. air base was expanded in 1953.

In addition to the collective compensation, the government was sentenced to pay up to $3,500 to each of the 53 plaintiffs.

Denmark _ which controls the semi-autonomous Greenland, the world’s largest island _ allows the United States to use it for military purposes, including maintaining military bases.

During the Cold War, the United States expanded its key air base at Thule, in the northwestern sector, and forcefully moved 611 indigenous Inuits.

On behalf of the 611, a group of 53 Inuits had sued the state for $23 million in compensation for losing their homes and hunting grounds.

The Eastern High Court in Copenhagen ruled that the forceful transfer had been ``a serious infringement″ of the rights of the Inuit population.

There was no immediate government reaction to the court’s ruling.

In 1995, the government paid $15.5 million to 1,700 Danes and Greenlanders who were subjected to radiation in 1968 when they cleared the remains of a U.S. bomber carrying nuclear weapons that crashed near the Thule base.

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