The surviving relatives of Max Papilaja and Hansina Uktolseja, two Moluccan train hijackers who were shot dead in 1977 at 'De Punt' have summoned the Dutch State to court. According to their lawyers Liesbeth Zegveld and Brechtje Vossenberg, there is sufficient evidence that Max Papilaja and Hansina Uktolseja were executed at close range by marines during the ending of the hijacking, while there was no necessity to do so. The State is summoned to appear before the District Court of The Hague on 23 December 2015.
For the surviving relatives, the object of the procedure is that the court renders a verdict on the liability of the State, a necessary step in order to reach compensation. However, Zegveld explains that the main goal is that all the facts about the ending of the hijacking finally come to light, and that the unlawfulness of the marines' actions is established.
Zegveld: ‘It is not up to the executive power, with its monopoly on the use of force, to pass judgment about guilt, let alone about life or death. In a rule of law state, that judgment is reserved for the courts. By taking the law into its own hands, by executing Max Papilaja and Hansina Uktolseja, the State has violated the most elementary principles of the rule of law .’
Zegveld stresses that the surviving relatives do not want to deny or downplay the fact that Max Papilaja and Hansina Uktolseja participated in the commission of a grave crime: ‘However, the law also applies to those involved in the most serious of crimes. In no way did the State have the right to rob Max and Hansina of their lives. They had already been injured to such an extent by the firepower that they could, and therefore should, have been arrested'.
On 23 May 1977, near the De Punt in the Dutch province Drenthe, nine Moluccan youth - eight men and a woman - hijacked a train. In doing so, they wanted to draw attention to the struggle for an independent Moluccan republic (the Republik Maluku Selatan, or 'RMS'). After twenty days, special forces of the Marine Corps forcibly ended the train hijacking, killing six hijackers and two hostages. Reports that were only released in recent years prove that a combined total of 144 injuries were found on the six dead hijackers. According to Zegveld, the reports furthermore reveal that the marines in the train shot two of the hijackers at close range; the injuries show that a firearm was in direct contact with one of the hijackers, and that they were shot in the head with revolvers. Zegveld says that this was done using prohibited ammunition.
Annex (in Dutch)
- Writ of summons, 'De Punt'