Monday, August 30, 2004

BUSINESS: IBM Asks High Swiss Court to Reject Holocaust Suit

GENEVA - Computer giant IBM has asked Switzerland's high court to block a Gypsy rights group's attempts to sue it for allegedly helping Nazi slaughter in World War II, lawyers said on Monday.

The group accuses IBM of facilitating the mass slaughter of gypsies by selling Nazi Germany its punch-card Hollerith tabulating machines -- the mainframe computer of its era -- knowing it would use them to track and identify victims. IBM had its European headquarters in Geneva during the war.

"We have appealed the case to the supreme court in Switzerland and we are confident that we will prevail," IBM spokesman Fred McNeese said.

If the Gypsies' case goes ahead and is successful, it could eventually cost IBM $12 billion in claims, the plaintiff's lawyer Henri-Philippe Sambuc said. "(But) if the decision overrules the court of justice in Geneva, the case will be over," Sambuc told Reuters by telephone.

The five plaintiffs, all of whom lost family members in death camps in the 1939-1945 period when Nazis killed an estimated six million Jews and 600,000 gypsies in Europe, will claim $20,000 each from IBM.

Copyright: Reuters


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