Dutch ministry won’t appeal unlawful Afghan airstrike ruling
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch government said Friday that it will not appeal a court ruling that Dutch forces unlawfully bombed a residential complex in Afghanistan in 2007, killing some 20 civilians, in a civil case brought by four survivors.
The District Court of The Hague found in November that the late-night attack violated international humanitarian law. The court sided with four survivors of the attack who sued the Dutch state for compensation.
The defense ministry argued that buildings were being used by Taliban fighters when the military hit the walled compound, known as a “quala,” with munitions fired from attack helicopters and F-16s.
The Dutch were part of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan at the time and were fighting the Taliban in a battle for control of the Chora Valley some 500 kilometers (310 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul.
However, some 12 hours had elapsed since the last time the Taliban used the location as a firing position when the bombing occurred, and judges concluded that the military did not have enough information to designate the compound as a military target.
In a letter to lawmakers Friday, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said that 15 years after the attack, the ministry “does not have any further or additional information to substantiate the fact that the quala was a military target at that time.”
“The State will therefore not lodge an appeal. The State will comply with the court’s ruling by proceeding to pay compensation. The extent of the damage has yet to be determined,” she wrote.
Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer who represented the survivors in court, said she had informed them via an intermediary in Afghanistan and that they were relieved at the government’s decision.
Ollongren, in her letter to parliament, said her thoughts went out “to the civilian victims of the Taliban’s attack on the Chora Valley and their loved ones. And to those who lost their lives protecting the civilian population during the defense of Chora, including a Dutch soldier, his relatives and comrades.”