Expatica news

Dutch marine faces trial for Iraqi’s death

13 July 2004

AMSTERDAM − The Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) in Arnhem is to take a Dutch marine to trial for the shooting death of an Iraqi in the south of Iraq last December, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

According to the OM, the marine breached regulations applying to Dutch soldiers in Iraq by shooting in the direction of a group of Iraqis. If that cannot be proven, the prosecution can fall back on the charge of culpable homicide.

The prosecution initially wanted to charge the marine − identified as sergeant-major Erik O. − with murder, manslaughter or culpable homicide, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

The shot was fired as Dutch marines were trying to prevent Iraqis from looting a container that had fallen off a truck in southern Iraq. 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.

The prosecution claims an Iraqi was killed in the 27 December shooting and that people were in fear of their life, a charge which is deemed a military offence. The prosecution hopes to bring the marine before the court on 27 September.

The hearing in the military chamber of the court will involve two judges and a member of the armed forces.

O. was arrested at the end of last year and flown home to the Netherlands. He was released early January due to a lack of evidence, but remained under suspicion.

Revelations have since surfaced claiming that O. was a “trigger happy” soldier who had previously served on top secret anti-terrorist missions in foreign countries. The Dutch government has denied such missions were granted a licence-to-kill.

And O. claimed in May in a TV interview with television current affairs program NOVA that he acted appropriately and was innocent of the allegations. Military sources have also described O.’s “approach” to the use of violence as being “professional”.

The case has led to tension between the prosecution and the military, which has claimed that the decorated marine was being treated too severely. But a feeling exists within OM ranks that the military is trying to frustrate the legal process.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news