Marine demonstrates fatal warning shot
23 March 2005, AMSTERDAM — Appearing in the appeals court in Arnhem on Wednesday, Dutch marine Erik O. was given his old gun and asked to demonstrate how he fired two warning shots in Iraq on 27 December 2003.
23 March 2005
AMSTERDAM — Appearing in the appeals court in Arnhem on Wednesday, Dutch marine Erik O. was given his old gun and asked to demonstrate how he fired two warning shots in Iraq on 27 December 2003.
O. performed the demonstration at the request of his lawyer. The prosecutor had also asked for the demonstration. O. was subsequently given his unloaded, Diemaco automatic rifle, newspaper 'De Telegraaf' reported.
The sergeant-major demonstrated how he showed his rifle to a group of looting Iraqis to convince them to back off from Dutch security forces. He then pointed his rifle into the air and fired a warning shot. A second shot was aimed at the ground to the left of the group. The aim was for the bullet to splatter mud, he suggested.
O. also expressed surprise that he had been given his own weapon for the demonstration. This is despite the fact that military police could not tell him for the past 15 months where his weapon was.
During questioning in court on Wednesday, O. maintained that Dutch soldiers were at risk during the looting incident and that based on his experience, it was a correct decision to fire the two warning shots.
"The safety of my group took priority. I chose a compromise and thus fired into the ground," he said.
But the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM) claims that an Iraqi man was killed by one of the warning shots and that O. breached rules of engagement. It had initially charged him with murder or manslaughter, but later dropped these charges.
Despite agreeing to answer the court's questions, O. said on Wednesday he would refuse to answer questions from the prosecutor. He said the prosecutor had made him out to be a liar — attacking not only him, but also his colleagues.
O. was previously acquitted by Arnhem Court in October 2004 after the prosecutor demanded a six-month suspended military detention sentence and a 240-hour work order.
The prosecutor's decision to appeal the ruling was highly criticised at the time, but the OM said the decision was a well-balanced choice. It denied on Wednesday the decision was based on a competitive will to win.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news