The Netherlands failed to carry out a proper investigation into the fatal shooting of an Iraqi man during the 2004 multi-nation occupation, the European Court of Human Rights said on Thursday.
The court ruled the Netherlands had violated Article 2 of the treaty ‘(right to life) because of ‘the failure of the Netherlands authorities to carry out an effective investigation into the death’ of Azhar Sabah Jaloud.
The investigation had been characterised by serious shortcomings, which had made it ineffective, the court said in its ruling.
In particular, records of key witness statements had not been submitted to the judicial authorities; no precautions against collusion had been taken before questioning the Netherlands Army officer who had fired at the car carrying the victim; and the autopsy of the victim’s body had been inadequate, the court said.
The shooting took place on December 21, 2004 when Iraq was under the control of a coalition of different armies led by the US.
Jaloud was in a black Mercedes car which approached a checkpoint manned by Dutch soldiers and hit an oil barrel in the road, placed there to stop traffic.
One Dutch soldier, named as Lieutenant A, shot 28 times at the car after which the driver stopped. Jaloud was in the front seat and was hit several times. He died shortly afterwards.
The Dutch authorities originally told Jaloud’s family the soldier had mistakenly reacted to friendly fire from the other side of the road, a position upheld by a military court.
His father then took the case to Europe, alleging the investigation into his son’s death had ‘neither been sufficiently independent nor effective.’
The court ordered the Netherlands to pay Jaloud €25,000 in damages plus court costs.