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The Hague, March 25 – The Dutch state has to pay compensation to relatives of eleven men who were executed by colonial forces during the war for independence in Indonesia in the late 1940s, the judges ruled today.
The Hague District Court ordered the state to pay damages ranging from € 10,000 (RM 47,400) to € 123 to eight widows and four male children who were killed in South Sulawesi between 1946 and 1947.
It is the first time that certain amounts have been awarded, despite the fact that Dutch courts have tried a number of similar cases, said applicants’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld.
“The court is of the opinion that eleven men were killed as a result of wrongdoing by Dutch soldiers. Most of them were executions, ”said the judges.
The highest amount was paid to a man who saw his father killed when he was 10, said court spokeswoman Judge Jeanette Honee.
The widows of the men also received compensation of up to € 3,600, but applicants who were children received less compensation depending on their age at the time of the murders.
The Dutch judges based the relatively small amounts on men’s income, which at the time was around EUR 100 per year.
“The court recognizes that these small amounts are disproportionate to the pain and grief that the executions of husbands and fathers undeniably caused to widows and children,” the court said in a statement.
“The amounts granted should not provide for this, but only material damage in the form of lost livelihood.”
Dutch courts hear several other cases of relatives asking for compensation for atrocities committed by Dutch colonial forces during so-called purges to exterminate Indonesian freedom fighters.
At least 860 men were killed by firing squads, mainly between December 1946 and April 1947 in Sulawesi, then known as Celebes.
The Dutch government apologized in 2013 for the murders perpetrated by its colonial army and announced compensation to the widows of the deceased.
Two weeks ago, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands – the first of a Dutch monarch – apologized for “excessive violence” during the former colony’s struggle for independence.
Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945 after a brief occupation by the Japanese during the war and several hundred years as a Dutch colony. – AFP
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