Government failed to disclose information on 2016 Mali training accident


The Dutch defence ministry, public prosecution and border police knew more than they disclosed about inadequate safety measures in Mali that meant two soldiers died in a 2016 training exercise, reports NOS.

A report by the Dutch Safety Board, published on Wednesday, confirms the conclusions of its 2017 study, which said the military was using old, defective grenades that were not tested or stored correctly.

Moisture and heat meant the ignition mechanism of a mortar shell was unstable, leading to the fatal explosion, which severely injured another soldier. Another 10,000 grenades from the same job lot are still waiting to be dismantled, the board said.

However, its report also pointed out that governmental organisations knew about inadequate safety and commissioned their own report from British experts in 2019, without making this public. More detail from this report was the reason for the board to recheck its conclusions, although no new facts emerged.

Kajsa Ollongren, defence minister, told MPs in a briefing that it was a ‘painful fact’ that the ministry should have shared information from this internal investigation in 2019 with the Dutch Safety Board.

A debate about dismantling the dangerous materials is scheduled for October.

The Netherlands took part in a UN peacekeeping mission to Mali for four years, up to 2019.

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