Release ordered of Dutch genocide suspect
28 January 2005, AMSTERDAM — A court in The Hague ordered the release from jail on Thursday of a Dutchman suspected of exporting raw materials to Iraq to assist in Saddam Hussein's production of chemical weapons.
28 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — A court in The Hague ordered the release from jail on Thursday of a Dutchman suspected of exporting raw materials to Iraq to assist in Saddam Hussein's production of chemical weapons.
The suspect, Frans van A., is accused of supplying the ousted Iraqi dictator with chemicals for the production of mustard gas that was used against the Kurds in northern Iraq. The appeals court in The Hague did not give a reason why it ordered his release.
Court spokesman Roland Regout told news agency Novum that the decision was made during a hearing in chambers. Such hearings are not open to the public, he said.
The national prosecutor's office is now planning to try and prevent the release of Van A., sources told news agency ANP.
And Socialist Party SP MP Krista van Velzen is demanding answers from Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner about Van A.'s release. She said there is a clear risk that Van A. will flee from prosecution and demanded that Donner explain how he will ensure that the suspect does not try and escape.
At the request of US authorities, Van A. was first arrested in 1989 in Italy. After two months on remand, he was released pending extradition, but fled to Iraq, where he stayed until the US-led invasion in March 2003. He then fled to Syria and subsequently to the Netherlands, where he was re-arrested in December last year.
He is accused of war crimes and complicity in genocide by exporting thousands of tonnes of raw materials to Iraq between 1984 and 1988. The Iraqi regime used chemical weapons in the 1980-88 war against Iran and against the Kurds in northern Iraq. Thousands of Iranian soldiers and Iraqi civilians were killed in the attacks.
The Dutch prosecutor suspects Van A. was involved in 36 shipments to Baghdad. He faces maximum sentences of life imprisonment and 20 years respectively for complicity to commit genocide and war crimes.
But according to Dutch media, Van A. was also an informant of the Dutch intelligence service AIVD. He is believed to have previously been supplied with a "safe house" provided by the Dutch Interior Ministry.
Authorities have not confirmed or denied the reports, nor have they explained why Van A. might have been placed under the protection of the Dutch government. But newspaper De Volkskrant reported last month that the AIVD wants information from Van A. about Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons programmes.
The Dutch Justice Ministry has refused to comment on Van A.'s release, asserting that it is a matter for the public prosecutor.
[Copyright Expatica News + Novum Nieuws 2005]
Subject: Dutch news