Commander denies getting orders to kill De Punt train hijackers

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

A former commander denies ever getting the order not to take Moluccan hijackers prisoner, but to kill them, in liberating a hijacked train at De Punt and occupied primary school Bovensmilde in 1977. "No authority came to me with such an order", the former commander, who coordinated the liberation operation at Bovensmilde, said to the Telegraaf.

On Tuesday three officers, new witnesses in the trial surrounding this hijacking, told the Volkskrant that the commander said several times that he had been ordered from above not to take any prisoners. The officers said that this order came from then Justice Minister Dries van Agt. According to them, the commander found it "morally reprehensible" to kill caught perpetrators in the primary school and instead handed them over to the judiciary, ignoring his orders.

An anonymous former marine made a similar statement last year.

According to NOS, these three officers were not directly involved in the liberation operations. They only started working for Defense afterwards and heard the story from those involved. 

Their story is wrong, the commander - then a captain in the marines - said to the Telegraaf. "That I got the order to 'take no prisoners' is simply not true. But I have always said that the way the attack on the train was planned would unavoidably lead to fatalities. That could maybe have been different. They misinterpreted my remarks about it."

According to the commander his orders were to arrest the terrorists and to use appropriate violence only if necessary. "I made it clear to the units evening after evening and that's how it went in Bovensmilde." 

Former Minister Van Agt also denies that he gave the order to kill the hijackers. "I've said a number of times that this allegation is completely unfounded. That it's simply not true. The truth is rather the other way around. We issued the consignment: take as few lives as possible. That's the story. The reality and the truth", he said to Dagblad van het Noorden. 

Van Agt can't believe that these accusations are still following him more than 40 years after the hijacking. He's starting to loose hope that he will ever escape them. "It always comes back. I feel really insulted by that. Heavily wronged too. I still can't imagine that serious people would consider one of us capable of this. Not then and not now. And it's not just about me. I am the only one who is still alive, but we are also talking about people like Joop den Uyl and Max van der Stoel. People of this moral quality do not fit this allegation."

In 1977 nine armed Moluccans hijacked a train at De Punt and four others took hostages at the primary school. The storming of the hijacked train and the school was considered one military operation. They happened at the same time, after three weeks of negotiations. No shots were fired during the action at the primary school. In the hijacked train at De Punt, six of the nine hijackers and two hostages were killed.

The current lawsuit around this hijacking was filed by the relatives of two killed hijackers. They believed that their relatives were executed after they had been incapacitated.



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