Somali tribesmen to sue Dutch state over US drone strike

justice courts legal systemTwo Somali shepherds who were caught in a drone strike aimed at a terrorist convoy are to sue the Dutch state for war crimes, their lawyers said.

One of the nomadic tribesmen lost a leg and saw two daughters killed in the attack by an American drone in January 2014. Both claim they had most of their cattle herds wiped out.

The shepherds are suing the Netherlands because information from the military intelligence service MIVD was used to pinpoint the location of the terrorist convoy. It would be the first case to be brought in the Dutch courts by victims of a US-directed strike.

Lawyer Göran Sluiter told the Volkskrant there was a more realistic chance of compensation under Dutch law. ‘The Americans will use the defence that they were protecting national security, especially as non-American victims were involved,’ he said. ‘Under Dutch law this is a war crimes case.’

The drone strike was aimed at a convoy carrying members of the terrorist organisation Al Shabaab. Its leader, Ahmed Godane, survived the missile attack but several of his colleagues were killed.

Sluiter said the Americans should have seen there were innocent bystanders in the area when the missile was fired, and therefore that they broke international law. ‘There were a lot of cattle in the area, a clear indication that there were people there,’ he said.

The ministry of defence said it had no knowledge of how other nations used information it supplied in military operations. Information was exchanged with the US in Somalia as part of ‘routine co-operation’, a spokesman added.

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