Yugoslav soldiers in Dutch High Court

The Hague, 15 March, 2002 - In the case Yugoslav conscripts versus Dutch State, an appeal has been taken to the High Court in The Hague. The conscripts claim the Dutch government was not authorized to endanger their lives. The government prosecutor wrote in his defence that the Dutch State had never intended to kill soldiers. But their lawyer Nico Steijnen labelled the statement 'highly hypocritical'.

The so-called Danikovic case is one of the short-term cases Steijnen initiated in favour of Yugoslav citizens and conscripts in 1999. The soldiers claimed that the Netherlands should immediately terminate the unlawful air strikes and distance itself from the Nato aggression. "...primarily because the war itself was in the breach of all valid laws", Steijnen said. "The Security Council has never authorized Nato to attack".

In another short-term case, the higher court in Amsterdam ruled that Dutch ministers themselves were not responsible for the consequences of the war. But, they failed to corroborate their argument that Security Council Resolution 1199 authorized them to wage an air campaign, the judge ruled. In this case, citizens claimed damages.

At the first Danikovic trial, the president of the court in The Hague said a decision by the Council of Nato was sufficient and in line with the Security Council decision. "A very strange argument", Steijnen said. In his first appeal the Dutch lawyer demanded that the higher court should issue a ban on repetition and claimed 450 euros as symbolic compensation for every one of them. The higher court rejected the requests since 'there no longer existed a threat of war' and because Dutch law does not envisage the payment of damages in these circumstances.