Dutch PM: no money paid for release of crew

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The Dutch helicopter crew released by Libya on Friday morning will not immediately return to the Netherlands. The three are currently in Athens where they will be debriefed by the defence ministry. They will spend the next few days under the supervision of a doctor and a psychologist to help them recover from their experiences.

The three navy staff were arrested in the northern city of Sirte after a bungled evacuation operation on 27 February. The helicopter was based on the frigate HNLMS Tromp and was attempting to evacuate a Dutch and a Swedish national. The two Europeans were able to leave Libya shortly after the arrest of the soldiers.

Defence Minister Hans Hillen and armed forces commander General Peter van Uhm announced early on Friday morning that the three appeared to be in good health. General Van Uhm said it’s customary for soldiers to be debriefed and go through a period of readjustment after a military operation.

Commenting on the news, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was wonderful news and praised the role of Greece and Malta in helping secure the release of the helicopter crew. Speaking ahead of Friday’s EU summit, the prime minister insisted that no money was paid and no promises were made to secure the crew’s release, which he said would not affect the Dutch position on Libya.




© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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