Dutch: Russian cluster bomb killed cameraman

21st October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Investigations show a RTL television cameraman was killed by a Russian cluster in Georgia in August.

21 October 2008

AMSTERDAM -- A Dutch government investigation has found that a Russian cluster bomb killed a RTL television cameraman in Georgia in August, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Russia denied using cluster munitions during its brief war with Georgia in August, but human rights groups say both sides unleashed the widely denounced weapons.

Dutchman Stan Storimans, 39, died while filming the fighting in Gori, Georgia, during the conflict over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

A Dutch investigative team sent to the spot two weeks later to gather forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts concluded Storimans was killed by a munition "propelled by a type of rocket that is only found in Russia's military arsenal," the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called the findings "very serious".

"I have made that clear to the Russian authorities," he said in a statement. "Cluster munitions must not be used in this way. There were no troops present in Gori and innocent civilians were killed."

Cluster bomblets are packed into artillery shells or bombs dropped from aircraft. A single container typically scatters some 200 to 600 of the mini-explosives over an area the size of a football field.

They have been criticised by human rights groups because they kill indiscriminately and unexploded ordinance poses a threat to civilians similar to that of land mines.

Georgia has acknowledged using used ground-launched cluster munitions near the Roki tunnel, which connects South Ossetia with Russia.

In May, more than 100 countries agreed in Dublin, Ireland, to ban cluster bombs within eight years. But neither Georgia nor Russia signed the accord.

Verhagen said the Netherlands plans to raise the matter with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which addresses arms control issues. Both Russia and Georgia are members.

"The Netherlands will call for a political statement to be issued in which member states pledge not to use cluster weapons in situations of this kind," the ministry said.

Storimans, a veteran newsman, was killed while filming on a large square in Gori, which was nearly deserted. Several Georgian civilians died in the same attack, according to reporter Jeroen Akkermans, who was working with Storimans. Akkermans suffered minor injuries.

His employer, RTL Nieuws, is ultimately owned by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG.

[AP / Expatica]

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