Final verdict in case about execution/decapitation on South-Sulawesi
Prakken d’Oliveira, 01 October 2020
On 29 September 2020 the district court of The Hague rendered its final verdict in the case that Malik Lambogo initiated in 2016 against the State of the Netherlands about the death of his father Andi Abubakar Lambogo. In 2019, the district court had already dismissed the State’s argument that the case was out of time, but it had also held that the facts were insufficiently established (available in Dutch: here). In this final verdict, and on the basis of additional evidence, the district court was able to rule:
[Freely translated] ‘[Par. 3.1] [T]hat Dutch soldiers (i) killed A.A. Lambogo in the first half of March 1947, while A.A. Lambogo was detained after being wounded during a confrontation with Dutch soldiers, (ii) decapitated A.A. Lambogo and put his head on display at the local market (pasar) of the village Enrekang (abuse of corpse) and (iii) forced the captured soldiers from A.A. Lambogo’s battalion to kiss the decapitated head of their commander (violating the remains of A.A. Lambogo).’
The additional evidence consisted i.a. of additional literary sources from Indonesia that document the circumstances of the death of A.A. Lambogo. Additionally, two witnesses who could attest to the ghastly events testified before the district court of The Hague via video-link. One witness was able to confirm, based on his own observations, that A.A. Lambogo’s head had been put on display at the local market. The other witness was in A.A. Lambogo’s group and witnessed the wounding and capture of A.A. Lambogo by Dutch soldiers. That witness was also captured himself. Within days he was brought to the market at Enrekang, where Dutch soldiers forced him to kiss A.A. Lambogo’s head.
With this final verdict, the facts concerning the death of our client’s father have now also been confirmed and acknowledged by the court. However, at present the compensation he is eligible for is very low. The reason for this is that old Dutch law as it applied in 1947, is applicable in this case. On the basis of that law, the damages that are recoverable in court are limited to loss of income and only insofar as there was an actual need for that income. According to the law in 1947, surviving relatives were not eligible for immaterial damages and even legal interest only started to run from the moment that a claim to it was announced (in this case: in the summons to court). Concretely this means that our client, as the son of his father, is merely eligible for 12% of the amount in lost income that would have gone to his mother, and only until she remarried or until he was able to provide for himself either by reaching the age of majority or by getting married. Lambogo’s mother never remarried and he married in 1963; as such he is eligible for the aforementioned pecuniary damages until that year. In its final verdict, the court acknowledged the fact that the amount in damages that can be awarded on the basis of the applicable law is in no proportion to the pain and suffering of our client.
Our client does have a prospect of a more decent amount in compensation. Possibly, he may be eligible for (additional) compensation in future on the basis of an out-of-court settlement scheme. In 2013, the State announced a settlement scheme of this kind for widows of summarily executed men. This scheme, known in Dutch as ‘de Bekendmaking’, was extended until 2021 last year (see here, in Dutch). Last summer, the State said that it would also adopt an out-of-court settlement scheme for the children of summarily executed men. No further details are known as of yet, but it is expected that it will be comparable to the 2013-‘Bekendmaking’ for the widows. Widows of summarily executed men whose claims were awarded by the district court of The Hague in March (see here), received the compensation amount offered to widows on the basis of the out-of-court settlement scheme afterwards as well.