The Dutch Security Office (OVV) is reopening the investigation into the mortar accident in Mali in which two Dutch soldiers were killed in 2016 and a third was seriously injured. Relatives are relieved: “Finally we have come to an agreement.”
Soldiers Henry Hoving (29) and Kevin Roggeveld (24) were killed on July 6, 2016 during an exercise in Mali. This happened when a 60-millimeter mortar shell exploded. After investigation, the OVV strongly criticized the Ministry of Defense. Then defense minister Jeanine Hennis resigned after the report was published.
Last year, it became clear that experts from the OVV and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee have differing opinions on the technical cause of the early detonation of the grenade. Put simply, the Marechaussée concluded that it was a production error that caused the mortars to be sharpened early, according to the board of inquiry, it was a design error.
The board of inquiry now wants to know what exactly is different about the Marechaussée’s investigation and whether there are any new relevant facts that might also shed a different light on their own findings. Until now, they were not aware of the Marshal’s report. For this reason, the fact-finding investigation of the Royal Netherlands Marshal has now been requested. “To this end, the investigation is reopened,” said the board of inquiry.
Enforce the lawsuits after all
The different final conclusions of the two reports had major consequences for relatives. Partly because of this, the prosecution decided early last year not to prosecute Defense employees. A bitter pill for relatives who want the military responsible to be found and prosecuted. “We have long been a voice crying in the desert, but now we feel like we are finally heard,” says Henry Hoving’s mother Greetje Groenbroek.
Last year, relatives were particularly frustrated that the prosecution very easily declared that it was not possible to locate the soldiers responsible. A feeling that was reinforced when they themselves saw the investigations on which the prosecution based its conclusions. Groenbroek used to call it a hoot. ,, I read so many detective interviews where I thought: why don’t you ask? I haven’t slept for a week. “
Groenbroek read, for example, that the service regulations had been violated. She came across statements from a soldier who said that “unusable ammunition” was changed to “usable” at the push of a button with no technical research behind it. That there were military personnel who could identify people whom they knew had lied about information provided during the investigation of the fatal accident.
The OVV will certainly not respond to all of these open ends. But Groenbroek hopes there will now be a clear and unambiguous explanation of why things went wrong. May this offer new opportunities to reunite with those responsible and may the two families finally cry. ,, After more than five years, we are still fighting for the truth to come out. If the people who made mistakes admit it, we get peace.
The relatives are said to be in court in two weeks to force the prosecution to prosecute. Lawyer Michael Ruperti will now request the postponement of this process pending the findings of the OVV. He expects proceedings to continue after that. “There is no doubt that everything had gone wrong before the ammunition was shipped. There was no type classification and various regulations were not followed. In any case, these conclusions hold.
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