Family of sergeant killed in shooting accident claims damages from Defense

Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach)Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach)

The family of a military sergeant killed in an accident during a shooting drill in Ossendrecht two years ago, submitted a damage claim to the Ministry of Defense. The family is claiming damage caused by loss of income as well as emotional damage, lawyer Michael Ruperti said to ANP.

The lawyer would not comment on the amount involved in the claim. Defense has until March 1st to respond, or a lawsuit will be filed.

According to Ruperti, State Secretary Barbara Visser visited the killed sergeant's family in Breda on Friday and said that Defense is responsible for what happened. The claim was submitted before the visit, the lawyer added.

The Ministry of Defense confirmed to ANP that Visser visited the soldier's family, but would not say why. "That is private."

35-year-old sergeant Sander Klap was fatally hit by multiple bullets during shooting training at a Police Academy location in Ossendrecht in March 2016. He was standing behind a target when another participant of the drill fired at it. All that separated the target and the sergeant was a thin wall. 

The Dutch Safety Board investigated the incident and strongly criticized Defense last year for this fatal accident. According to the Board, the training location was unsuitable and safety procedures were not in order. The Public Prosecutor came to this same conclusion when it decided not to prosecute the soldiers involved in the accident. Klap's death also resulted in the first ever case in Dutch history of Commando soldiers suing the Ministry of Defense.

This incident, combined with a mortar grenade exploding during training in Mali and killing two Dutch soldiers, exposed an insufficient concern for safety at Defense and eventually resulted in Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis Plasschaert resigning.