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Dutch Leaders Testify In Serb War Crimes Case

Former Dutch Leaders Forced to Testify on Why Holland Should not be Charged with War Crimes Against Yugoslavia! *

By Nico Steijnen

Introduction by Andy Wilcoxson

Edited by Jared Israel

[5 January 2004]



I spoke with Nico Steijnen today. He is lead attorney in the landmark proceedings against the leaders of the Dutch government during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. We'll be posting excerpts from the conversation within a few days.

Nico Steijnen is the unsung hero in the legal defense of Slobodan Milosevic and Yugoslavia. Appointed by Milosevic to represent him before the Dutch and European Courts, Steijnen has persevered in law suits against the violations of Milosevic's rights, and he has worked without pay, conducting the legal actions described below, despite attacks on him engineered by The Hague Tribunal, including an attempt to disbar him.


Andy Wilcoxson Editor Emperor's Clothes Daily Reports on Yugoslavia


* Dutch Leaders Forced to Answer for Taking Part in NATO's Crimes *

by Nico Steijnen


Dutch war criminals involved in the war against Yugoslavia are about to make a forced appearance in the courtroom. Based on the order of The Hague Court of Appeals, followed by a small legal war to get The Hague District Court to enforce the Appeals Court ruling, the following former leading Dutch politicians must appear:

* Former Prime Minister Kok;

* Former Minister of Defence de Grave;

* Minister of Foreign Affairs van Aartsen;

* Former Chair of Parliament van Nieuwenhoven.

These politicians must answer the following question:

"Did the bombardment of the RTS-TV studio in Belgrade and the clusterbomb attacks on [the city of] Nis violate the principles and norms of international humanitarian law such that the State of The Netherlands might be held responsible?” [1]

Thus, at long last, immunity and impunity for leaders of NATO's war of aggression against Yugoslavia is coming to an end.


* A promise kept *


On the eve of NATO's 1999 war, the newly established Dutch organization, the Permanent Commission with Respect to Western War Crimes (PC), sent out a statement. We sent it personally to all leading politicians in the Dutch administration and parliament. It promised that if they dared wage a war of aggression against Yugoslavia, the effort to bring them, in person, into court would never cease, no matter how long it took.

If they made themselves war criminals, they would wear that mark for the rest of their lives.

It took five long years of legal combat - and it was combat! - in close co-operation with the victims of two of NATO’s most serious war crimes - the nocturnal bombardment of the RTS-TV studio in Belgrade and the dreadful clusterbomb attacks on civilians in the City of Nis - and now the Yugoslav people can see a first achievement: these former top politicians are forced to appear and account for their crimes. [2]


* Background of a victory *


The Hague Appeals Court ruling followed a victory two years ago in a similar case before the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. That case was Dedovic c.s. v. Kok, Van Aartsen and de Grave. Brought during the bombing of Yugoslavia, the case was an effort to get the courts to rule the bombing illegal.

It finally reached the Amsterdam Appeals Court only after the bombing ended, but the question remained: was the war legal? The administration and the majority of parliament had taken the position that it was because, supposedly, "Security Council Resolution 474 was sufficient to justify the use of military force against Yugoslavia".

In a stunning victory, the Amsterdam Appeals Court completely rejected this, ruling that Resolution 474 did not justify the aggression against Yugoslavia. The Court concluded that the State of The Netherlands apparently violated the prohibition of force under international law and that Kok, Van Aartsen and de Grave were apparently responsible for this grave act.

Shortly after winning that verdict, the PC brought this latest case on behalf of victims of the bombing of Serbian TV and the city of Nis. Rejected by The Hague District Court, the case was brought to the Hague Appeals Court which ruled on 6 March 2003 that these four top government leaders had to appear and confront their accusers.


* The court maneuvers *


The Hague Appeals Court ruled in our favor nearly a year ago, but the Hague District Court resisted issuing the required order to the four politicians. It used every tactic to avoid and postpone, even arguing that the papers from the Appeals Court had been misplaced.

Finally, when threatened with summary proceedings against its obvious attempt at sabotage, the District Court backed down and set a date for the hearing: January 26th 2004.

The testimonies are scheduled for the whole day.

Kok, Van Aartsen and de Grave have announced they will appear. But Van Nieuwenhoven, former chairperson of the Dutch parliament, says she will not submit to interrogation in court. The Hague District Court is maneuvering to support her refusal.

So a new legal battle is going on to force Van Nieuwenhoven also to comply with the unambiguous order by the Court of Appeal and with her sworn duty to uphold the laws of the land.

This is a battle she cannot win.

Important questions, among countless others, to be answered by Kok, Van Aartsen, de Grave and Van Nieuwenhoven during the hearings are:

* Was there a warning by NATO before the bombing of the RTS Television studio?

* Why did Dutch war planes use clusterbombs on a huge scale in Yugoslavia and why didn't they stop using them until after the catastrophic clusterbomb bombardment on Nis?

The forced appearance in court of Kok, Van Aartsen, de Grave and Van Nieuwenhoven upholds the central principle laid down at the Nuremberg Trials: personal responsibility and liability for war crimes:

"Crimes against international law are committed by man, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes [can] the provisions of international law be enforced." -- Annual Digest, 13 (1946), p. 221

Never since the Nuremberg Trials against leading Nazis has any Western political leader been called to account before a court for crimes of war.

Given the importance of the principle involved, given the earlier rejection of the Government’s arguments by the Amsterdam Appeals Court and given the order of the Hague Appeals Court, by attempting to prevent former leaders from having to appear The Hague District Court has shown it is not an honest court at all but an extension of the foreign offices of the States that bombed Yugoslavia.

To welcome the politicians, we will have a demonstration outside the Hall of Justice at Prins Clausweg 60 (directly behind the Central Station). This will take place on 26 January 2004 starting at 9:30 AM and lasting all day.

* Further Reading *

1. "Venice on a sea of bombs,"

2."Love Canal of the Balkans?,"

Have you seen the Emperor's Clothes movie, 'Judgment'? It proves the Western media lied about Bosnia.

© Scoop Media

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