Happy hunting grounds

Published: Sunday 30 November 2003

Denmark's Supreme Court began deliberations on its biggest civil case to date on Monday, November 3, 2003. 187 Inuit families, thrown out of their traditional hunting and fishing grounds to make way for a us military base in 1953, have demanded these grounds be returned to them, along with damages to the tune of 234 million kroners (us $36 million) for losses incurred since then.

Fifty years ago the families were forced to leave the village of Dundas in Greenland, a territory under Danish control. In 1999, a Danish court ruled that Dundas residents would receive us $2,600 each, and collective damages worth us $78,100. The Inuits rejected the offer, and approached the Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver its verdict in mid-November. A ruling in favour of the Inuits could force the us to close the base and put the government of Denmark -- a strong us ally -- in an awkward position.

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