Justice officials accused of leaking State secrets
13 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — Dutch marine Erik O. is demanding an investigation into justice officials for releasing of information that revealed he had been a member of a specialist commando unit that carries out ultra-secret missions abroad.
13 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — Dutch marine Erik O. is demanding an investigation into justice officials for releasing of information that revealed he had been a member of a specialist commando unit that carries out ultra-secret missions abroad.
The information about Sergeant-Major O.'s membership of the Bijzondere Bijstands Eenheid (BBE), a special unit within the Dutch Royal Navy marines, emerged when he was controversially put on trial in 2004 for shooting a suspected looter in Iraq.
He initially faced charges of murder or unlawful killing and breaching military orders. The first two were eventually dropped and he was cleared by a court on the third charge, but the prosecution is appealing against that decision.
Broadcaster NOS reported on Thursday that O., 43, is also taking legal steps of his own and has filed a complaint with the head of the Dutch prosecution service alleging that the revelation he was a member of the BBE amounts to the serious crime of leaking State secrets. His complaint is directed against "justice officials who were responsible for the leaking".
He says he feared for his life after the leak, claiming it put him and his family in danger.
But a spokeswoman for the national prosecutor's office, Annemarie van 't Erve, declined to comment on the news of O.'s complaint when contacted by news agency Novum.
O. served in 2003 with the 1,300 Dutch marines and other military personnel stationed in the southern Iraqi province al-Muthanna. He was a member of a rapid reaction force that aids troops who get into difficulty.
He allegedly fired the fatal shot as other Dutch marines were trying to prevent Iraqis from looting a container that had fallen off a truck in southern Iraq on 27 December 2003. But doubts were raised as to whether O. had actually killed the male victim.
Nevertheless, other marines have testified that there was no reason for O. — who was a commander of a Quick Reaction Force — to fire. US troops reportedly also reacted with amazement to the shooting. O. claimed he fired because he believed his colleagues were in danger.
There was an outcry from senior military figures when O. was arrested at the end of 2003 and flown back to the Netherlands for trial.
During the build-up to the trial, the media learned that O. had been a member of the BBE and had taken part in secret missions in Bosnia and elsewhere. The BBE is authorised to use deadly force, but it was also reported that O. had been warned by his superiors for being too ready to use his weapon.
O.'s lawyer says the call for an investigation into the leak is a matter of principle and has nothing to do with the prosecution's appeal coming up in March. Marines who serve with the BBE are given guarantees their participation and the missions will remain secret to avoid placing their lives in danger.
[Copyright Expatica News and Novum Nieuws 2005]
Subject: Dutch news