Investigation launched into decorated Dutch soldier's use of violence in secret Afghanistan operation

The Public Prosecutor launched an investigation into Dutch soldier Marco Kroon using violence during a secret operation in Afghanistan in 2007, Kroon's lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops announced on Wednesday. Kroon was awarded the Militaire Willems-Orde, the highest military award in the Netherlands, in 2009 for his efforts in Afghanistan, newspaper AD reports. 

Kroon says he reported the incident to Defense last year. Defense gave it through to the Public Prosecutor last week, which now launched an investigation.

"As commander of my unit, I had to eliminate an enemy who posed a serious danger to the operation and also threatened the lives of my men and myself. In view of the great political and military sensitivity and the high risk of failure, I had to keep this incident secret for a long time. I did not want to and could not endanger the operation", Kroon, who now works for the inspector general of the armed forces, said about the incident, according to the newspaper. He continued that he deliberately chose to bring the incident out himself. "I would really regret it if you heard about this incident through other channels than from myself."

Due to the secret nature of the operation, he said nothing further about it. "I look forward with confidence to the outcome of the Public Prosecutor's investigated, because I acted in good conscience", Kroon said.

On Tuesday the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, received a letter from Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld stating that Defense "reported an incident" to the Public Prosecutor. More information was only available in a confidential letter, only for the eyes of parliamentarians. Sources told AD that this letter was about Kroon. 

Kroon was part of the "green berets", a unit of soldiers that operated under extreme conditions in Afghanistan, according to the newspaper. Under the name Special Task Group Viper (2006-2007) and Taskforce 55 (2009-2010) they carried out special assignments in the country, which included frequent clashes with the Taliban.