Libyan regime physically abused Dutch soldier

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The Libyan authorities physically abused one of the three members of a helicopter crew who were captured after a failed attempt to evacuate two people from the coastal town of Sirte. The abuse took place during a initial interrogation when the man was separated from his two colleagues.

The abuse incident is reported in a letter Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and Defence Minister Hans Hillen sent to parliament on Tuesday. The soldier involved did not mention the abuse until 15 March, a few days after his return to the Netherlands. The letter does not provide details about the incident. The ministers write that the soldier did not mention the assault to his two colleagues to avoid upsetting them.

In their letter, the ministers also write that the Libyan regime probably had advance information about the evacuation the Dutch navy planned to carry out on 27 February, but how that information was obtained “cannot be stated with any degree of certainty”.

The ministers argue that the speed with which the crew was surrounded and overpowered by 30 armed men points to advance knowledge. What is certain, is that the element of surprise was lost, which was an important part of the plan.

In parliament, the Labour Party, Socialist Party and Democrat D66 party have expressed annoyance at the ministerial letter. The three opposition parties say it does not mention any compelling reasons as to why this rescue operation was undertaken. The Labour Party says it was a matter of sheer luck that no one was seriously injured.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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