Dutch gov't knew hijackers would be killed in 1977 train liberation: former soldiers

Hostage situation at De Punt (day 14), negotiators leave
Hostage situation at De Punt (day 14), negotiators leavePeters, Hans / AnefoWikimedia CommonsCC-0

The Dutch government was fully aware that hijackers would be killed during a military action that put an end to a hostage situation on a train near De Punt in 1977, two former soldiers who were involved in the action told the Volkskrant on Monday. According to the two soldiers, wounded hijackers were unnecessarily executed and the government gave the instructions for, and approved, the attack.

The two soldiers were involved in freeing hostages at a school in Bovensmilde in 1977. "If you push so much deadly ammunition into a train, for so long, your intention is that people will be killed", one of the soldiers said to the newspaper. His colleague added that during the briefing, it was literally said that hijackers would die.

Six of the nine hijackers and two hostages were killed when soldiers ended the hostage situation on the train in 1977. The two hostages were accidentally hit by solder-fired bullets when they stormed the train. 49 other hostages escaped the ordeal unharmed. 

In 2014 relatives of some of the killed hijackers filed a lawsuit against the Dutch state, claiming that excessive force was used when the hostage situation was ended. Over the past weeks, 11 soldiers involved in the action anonymously testified in te court in The Hague. The two soldiers that spoke to the Volkskrant called the trial a "sham performance" in which witnesses are told what to say. 

On October 4th, a soldier testifying under the code 2C admitted in court that he shot a female hijacker at close range. It also appeared that the testimony of six soldiers did not correspond to sound recordings made during the military action in 1977. 

The two soldiers told the Volkskrant that the testifying soldiers and the government made agreements about what they would say in court. 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense told the newspaper that "there was no instruction from the State to the soldiers that were questioned."