Monday 19 April 2021

Relatives of Moluccan train hijackers take state to court over deaths

Train hijack national archiveRelatives of two Moluccan activists shot dead at the end of the 1977 De Punt train hijacking are taking the Dutch state to court.

They claim Max Papilaja and Hansina Uktolseja were executed by marines even though they were seriously injured in the battle to free the train.

The Moluccan activists hijacked the Assen to Groningen train as part of their campaign to try to get the Dutch government to meet its promises of an independent state and to break ties with the Indonesian government.

Two passengers and six of the nine hijackers were killed in a ‘hail of bullets’ when the train was stormed after a 20-day stand-off. Some reports say up to 150,000 bullets were fired at the train.

Lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld says two of the hijackers were shot at close range in the head and chest even though it would have been possible to arrest them. ‘No one should be killed unless absolutely necessary,’ she says in the legal briefing.

Earlier efforts to have the state made liable for the two deaths were rejected. Zegveld, however, says the autopsy reports and statements by the marines themselves show Papilaja and Ukotseja were deliberately shot dead.

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