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Netherlands court finds country liable for 1947 Indonesia massacre claims

The District Court of The Hague [official website, in Dutch] on Wednesday ruled that the Dutch government must pay damages [court materials, in Dutch] to one survivor and seven widows of men killed by Dutch troops during a 1947 massacre in Indonesia [NRC Handelsblad backgrounder]. The court ruled that the Dutch government is responsible for killings committed in the village of Rawagedeh, now called Balongsari, during the 1945-49 Indonesian War for Independence [timeline], where Dutch troops allegedly executed more than 400 villagers. The Dutch government claimed that the statute of limitations barred the claims, but the court ruled the widows and survivor were able to bring their claims and receive compensation because they were direct victims of war crimes. However, the limitation period barred the claim of a daughter of one of the men killed. The court did not set the amount of compensation, and it is unclear whether the Dutch government will appeal the decision.

A Dutch court ruled in 2008 in favor of the government, finding that the statute of limitations barred [JURIST report] the plaintiffs' claims. Indonesian officials say that Dutch soldiers shot 431 people as they tried to escape the massacre, while a 1969 Dutch investigation reported that 150 people were killed. In 2009, the Dutch government, which has never apologized for the massacre, allegedly donated 850,000 euros to Balongsari, although the village claims that it has not received the money [RNW report]. The Netherlands colonized Indonesia, then called the Dutch East Indies, from the late sixteenth century until 1949.

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