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Dutch News
US soldier could have been tried here 2/21/2007
20 February 2007

AMSTERDAM — American military personnel who commit crimes abroad are usually prosecuted and, if declared guilty, sentenced in the US. The US has signed extradition agreements to this effect with most countries.

International legal experts say it is not unusual that American authorities claimed “legal power” over the US rape suspect just three days after his arrest in Arnhem. However, this means that the victim from Arnhem will have to go to the US to testify.

The victim’s lawyer John Peters is afraid that the evidence collected by the Dutch Marechaussee will not be taken into account in the US. He also doubts that the most important witness, another American military officer, will say much once he is back home.

The decision to hand the suspect over to the US was taken by the Minister of Justice, and “there is no chance that this decision can be reversed”, Maastricht University lecturer André Klip told De Volkskrant.

The question is whether the minister had a choice. Theoretically, yes. If a NATO officer misbehaves abroad, the 1951 NAVO Status of Forces Agreement must be invoked. According to the treaty, the suspect’s country has the preference to prosecute him only in the case of offences related to his military service. In all other cases, the host country has preference.

So the minister did have a choice, experts say.

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