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Dutch court rules 2007 air strike in Uruzgan ‘unlawful’


Kabul: A deadly Dutch air strike on a civilian compound in Afghanistan in 2007 was unlawful, a court in the Netherlands ruled on Wednesday, ordering the country to compensate the victims´ families.

Four Afghans, who were not named in court papers, took the Dutch state to court over the incident during fighting between international forces and the Taliban in Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan. Dutch F-16 fighter jets in the early hours of June 17, 2007, dropped 28 guided bombs in the area, of which 18 landed on walled compounds, called “qalas” near the strategic town of Chora, the court said.

Several bombs landed on one of the compounds, designated “qala 4131” killing at least 18 of the claimants´ relatives, court papers said. Dutch forces had not properly distinguished between military and civilian targets, the court ruled.

“The Netherlands was responsible for the shelling of the houses,” it said in a statement. “It was known these houses were inhabited by civilians. The State invoked the fact the Taliban used the houses for military purposes … and thus that the bombing was not unlawful.”

“But the court rules that the State hasn’t sufficiently made clear on what basis it came to the conclusion that these houses were being used by the Taliban; … therefore, the bombing is illegal,” it ruled.

This is despite the fact that during the past years, similar requests and complaints have been made to the judicial authorities of these countries regarding the crimes of foreign forces such as US, England, Germany, Australia, France in Afghanistan, especially the request to pay compensation to the families of the victims, but less has been achieved.

Recently, Human Rights Watch asked the Hague International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes committed by American forces and other NATO member countries in the last 20 years war in Afghanistan.

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