Defense finds no evidence of Dutch soldier's abduction on Afghanistan mission: report
After a year long investigation, the Ministry of Defense found no evidence that decorated soldier Marco Kroon was kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2007 and afterwards killed his abductor. The Defense leaders therefore take into account that Kroon - at least partly - fabricated the story, the Volkskrant reports based on conversations with 13 people who were involved in the secret mission in Kabul, or have knowledge about the Defense investigation into this incident.
Both Kroon and the Ministry of Defense refuse to comment on this matter as long as the Public Prosecutor is still investigating it.
The Public Prosecutor launched an investigation early last year, after Kroon reported the violent incident to then Commander of the Armed Forces Tom Middendorp. Defense also launched an internal investigation, at the Prosecutor's request. Officers of military intelligence service MIVD questioned Kroon and dozens of other people involved. The conclusions were sent to the Prosecutor, who is now investigating whether a criminal offense was committed.
In February of this year, Kroon told Dutch media that he was kidnapped in Afghanistan in 2007 - without his commanders knowing about it. "During this short imprisonment I was harshly questioned, assaulted and severely humiliated. I was released at some point. Why is still not entirely clear to me", Kroon said to newspaper AD. A few weeks later he ran into his abductor unexpectedly and killed him, he said. "It was 'him or me' at that moment. I reached for my weapon on reflex and fired my entire magazine empty on the man's body."
"Everything and everyone who could know something and who we were able to track down has been questioned", a high-up Defense source that has knowledge about the file sent to the Public Prosecutor said to the Volkskrant. "The conclusion is that Defense can not confirm that it is true. There are no indications that it happened."
None of the 13 people the Volkskrant spoke to wants to say that nothing happened to Kroon in Afghanistan. "We think that something happened, because the explanation is very detailed and he is really affected by it. But I do not know if it happened to that extent", one source said. According to the newspaper, there is open speculation in Defense about whether Kroon is suffering from PTSD. "It is possible that the facts were mixed up and he really started to believe them", the Volkskrant quotes another source.
Defense expects that the Public Prosecutor will also fail to confirm Kroon's story, according to the newspaper. In that case, Kroon will face an administrative sanction at most - for waiting 10 years to report a violent incident.
Kroon's colleagues were shocked that he decided to make details about a secret mission public. Two former MIVD employees who worked with Kroon on the mission are currently working on a lawsuit against Defense, with which they hope to force the Ministry to help them relocate and start a new life elsewhere. They worry that they and their families are in danger after Kroon's revelations.
Among the Defense top, there is little sympathy left for the decorated soldier, according to the Volkskrant. "We tried to stop him when he wanted to publish his story", a Defense source said. "But he wanted to do it. If necessary, he'll resign. He brought this on himself."