Sky marshals may use gun to prevent hijackings
18 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — The armed military police guards that will be deployed on KLM international “risk” flights starting from next week will be allowed to fire their weapons if necessary, it has been reported.
The vice chairman of military police union Marechausseevereniging, Ed Lugthart, said the legal and technical problems associated with the scheme have now been resolved, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
The sky marshals — who will travel on board incognito — will be required to intervene when a terrorist attempts to take control of a plane. They will be armed with an extra compact service pistol, a Glock 26, which can be carried inconspicuously.
The military police is still to decide what will be best type of bullet, but it must put a terrorist out of action without exiting their body. The use of such a bullet would reduce the chance of passengers being injured.
But an academic with the Centre for Police Science of the Free University, Jaap Timmer, said safety experts claim there is no danger if a bullet pierces the hull of an airplane. The university is advising the Justice Ministry over the sky marshals; Timmer has urged further research regarding possible bullet damages.
It was revealed in January that 10 sky marshals had been secretly trained in the summer of 2003 in Germany and Israel. The military police officers underwent intensive anti-terrorism training on assignment from the Justice Ministry and it was reported that the sky marshals could be deployed in February.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, KLM requested the Dutch Cabinet on several occasions to deploy sky marshals. The US is also demanding that international flights entering US airspace carry the so-called sky marshals on board.
But KLM raised doubts at the end of 2003 and pilots have expressed concern against possible shootings and airplane technical glitches that could develop as a result. There is also the risk that terrorists can seize the weapon from sky marshals.
These concerns and other matters such as the criteria governing the use of violence and the legal responsibility for a sky marshal’s actions have now been outlined in an official protocol.
The use of the sky marshals will require a legislative change governing police powers. But in a temporary solution, the Justice Ministry has formally requested the Defence Ministry’s support through the deployment of military police.
But Timmer believes that the tasks and powers are too unclear and are based on a mix of international treaties and regulations.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news