12 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Defence Ministry is reportedly prepared to pay compensation to the family of an Iraqi man who was killed in a shooting incident involving Dutch marines last month.
A ministry spokesman has confirmed that Dutch authorities have been in contact with local leaders in the south of Iraq, where the 1,170 Dutch peacekeeping troops are based, opening up the possibility of compensation.
He said if surviving relatives of the victim — a suspected Iraqi looter killed on 27 December — wish to make contact with Dutch military officers, the local leaders will be able to set up such a meeting, an NOS news report said.
The Defence Ministry said it has long had a policy that it would always pay compensation — no matter how much — for damages caused by Dutch peacekeeping troops.
The payment of damages to the victim’s family — known also as blood money — is designed to prevent the family from seeking revenge for the loss of honour. If blood is spilled between two “clans” in Iraq, one clan usually takes revenge at a later stage.
According to Iraqi customs, the Dutch soldiers or other foreign troops are seen as a clan. Both US and British military forces are also paying blood money to Iraqis.
The Iraqi man was shot and killed as Dutch marines tried to disperse a group of looters from the city of As Samawah late last month. A 43-year-old sergeant-major was arrested and flown home to the Netherlands to face trial.
But an Arnhem judge ordered his release last week, ruling that there was insufficient evidence to warrant murder or manslaughter charges. The prosecution claims the Iraqi man was shot in the back and investigations continue.
Sharp political criticism was leveled at the arrest and debate has raged around allegedly unclear military orders governing the rules of violent engagement. Defence Minister Henk Kamp has refused to modify the rules.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news