Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dutch Iraq Inquiry underway

No former politicians on Iraq inquiry committee

Published: 25 February 2009 17:20 Changed: 26 February 2009 09:28

By our news staff

The committee which will lead the inquiry into the Dutch government's political support for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was presented on Wednesday. It will be headed by Willibrord Davids, former president of the Dutch high court, and its remit is to investigate the decision making process behind the policy. No politicians will sit on the committee.

Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende had pushed for the inclusion in the committee of at least one authoritative former minister, citing their experience of issues involving international law. Those being considered included former prime ministers Wim Kok, Ruud Lubbers and former deputy prime minister Hans van Mierlo. However, none will serve on the committee, which will produce its report by 1 November.

Davids said he spoke to the heavyweights but concluded that they were not right for the job because of their political affiliations. "The truth does not depend on political background," Davids said at the presentation of his committee.

Instead of politicians Davids chose to put experts on his team. Cees Fasseur, a historian and lawyer who is famous in the Netherlands for his books about the royal family, and Marjan Schwegman, who heads the national institute for war documentation (NIOD) are among the members. The others are: Monica den Boer, Thijmen Koopmans, Nico Schrijver and Peter van Political scientist Koos van der Bruggen is the secretary of the committee.

The committee will get access to all the minutes from cabinet meetings and Davids said he is confident intelligence organisations will fully cooperate.

Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende finally agreed on February 2 to an inquiry into the Dutch decision to support the invasion. The opposition on both left and right has been highly critical of the institution of the Davids commission instead of a parliamentary inquiry.


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