Ultimatum for OM in case against marine

17th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

17 June 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner told MPs on Wednesday night that the Public Prosecution Office (OM) must decide within a month if it will prosecute a "trigger happy" Dutch marine for the death of an Iraqi looter late last year.

17 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner told MPs on Wednesday night that the Public Prosecution Office (OM) must decide within a month if it will prosecute a "trigger happy" Dutch marine for the death of an Iraqi looter late last year.

The Christian Democrat CDA minister revealed he has given an ultimatum to the OM governing council, the College van Procureurs-Generaal (Attorneys-General Council), news agency ANP reported.

Sergeant-major Erik O. was arrested after an Iraqi civilian was shot and killed on 27 December. Amid reports the looter was killed by a stray warning shot, O. was nevertheless flown home to the Netherlands to face murder or manslaughter charges. He was later released due to a lack of evidence, but investigations continue.

But the case sparked controversy again this week after Dutch public news service NOS broadcast a report claiming that O. had in the past served on State-secret military missions which allegedly gave Dutch special forces a "licence to kill".

O. was reportedly a member of the Special Support Unit (BBE) of the Royal Marines and was involved in anti-terrorism operations, but the government denies allegations of authorised fatalities.

At any rate, military police investigations have reportedly alleged that O. was involved in a previous incident, giving rise to suggestions he was "approachable" in the use of violence, a euphemism for being "trigger happy".

But Defence Ministry sources also said that the dossier about O. could also describe his readiness as "professionalism".

Meanwhile, Minister Donner said on Wednesday he regretted that information about O.'s military history had been leaked to the press, but denied the information involved a State secret. He also said the information did not originate from a prosecution dossier about O. or related documents.

Donner was referring to the information contained in a letter that the chief of the Attorneys-General Council, Joan de Wijkerslooth, sent to all 19 regional chief public prosecutors. That letter contained an official memo over Iraq and a document outlining a previous incident in which O. had been involved in.

The minister said more specific information from the military police's investigation into the actions of O. was not contained in the letter sent to prosecution chiefs.

And neither Donner nor Defence Minister Henk Kamp were prepared to comment further over allegations made in the media that O. was involved in special operations.

Nevertheless, Kamp said the Parliament is always kept informed about secret Dutch military operations in foreign countries, but admitted there is no definite procedure regulating how MPs are informed.

Despite this, he said the President of the Lower House of Parliament is always involved in the dissemination of relevant information.

Kamp said he is prepared to again give a complete oversight of secret operations to MPs and will discuss the manner in which the information will be distributed with Lower House President Frans Weisglas. He also said special operations are rarely carried out.

Admitting concerns about the leaking of information, he also asserted that such information places special operations troops at threat. "I am proud of the people who are willing to put their neck out and we must act with caution," he said.

The debate in the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, was adjourned after the first session and might be resumed on Thursday or possibly next week.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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