20 March 2011

Report from Day 17 - 07 February 2011

Today Dutch navy officer Jeffrey, who was in charge of the intervention on the 05.04 on the Taipan gives evidence. He reports the events and identifies some of the accused he arrested on board. He was first questioned by the judge and then by some lawyers.
The day starts with the judge reading out an exchange between himself and the Dutch state prosecutor, Ms. Bann, regarding the conditions under which Dutch military personnel can give evidence in court in Hamburg. The judge had wanted to know why the Dutch captain Lodder, who had given evidence on day 14 and 16 of the trial, hadn't been able to answer some questions. Ms Bann replied by stating that questions of operational matters would be covered by military regulations and answering them would be a criminal offence. Those questions should be submitted in writing to the Dutch defence ministry. 

Jeffrey is accompanied by an interpreter (like captain Lodder, he gives evidence in Dutch), a representative of the Dutch defence ministry and another navy officer. He sums up the operation:

He was alerted on 5 April 2010 of the take-over of a ship. The crew were reported to be in the safe room. He discussed the options with the commander. He was in favour of an intervention. The commander checked with the Dutch and the German 
government - both agreed. The team landed on the Taipan with a helicopter and went to the bridge. 6 of the accused were immediately arrested and the rest came out by and by. It took a long time before the crew came out. 

Jeffrey was in command of the operation, which was run from the Dutch frigate Tromp. He was in the helicopter and saw shots fired both from the helicopter and the Tromp. He doesn't remember shots being fired from the Taipan. One of the Dutch soldiers was injured when he abseiled from the helicopter. The team forced several doors open, in some cases by firing at them. 

The judge refers to Jeffrey's written statement, in which he says that he had recognized one of the arrested from a previous arrest a few weeks earlier. Jeffrey identifies one of the accused in the court room. The previous arrest had come about when the Tromp had been notified of a suspected pirate skiff. Jeffrey had arrested the people on board the skiff and detained them on the Tromp for a week. Then they released them due to lack of evidence. 

The lawyer for the accused who had previously been arrested then questions Jeffrey. Jeffrey confirms that the previous operation (on 15 March) was under the ATALANTA mandate. There were smaller skiffs who Jeffrey's team took on board and 
one larger boat which they sunk. No weapons were found. There was no official report, but the arrested persons made statements. They were kept in the hangar on board the Tromp for a week, chained to the deck. Then the commander gave orders to release them, which meant that they were put on their boat somewhere off the coast of Somalia.