Was a Belgian, is the killer of dag Hammarskjöld?

9fad53c1361c20d8d4591e980fe543c8 - Was a Belgian, is the killer of dag Hammarskjöld?

Was a Belgian, is the killer of dag Hammarskjöld?

13 January 2019 22:58 pm

| Ine Renson

The crash of the aircraft of UN secretary-general dag Hammarskjöld in 1961 remains one of the notorious cold cases from the post-war history. New research confirms the role of the Belgian pilot Jan Van Risseghem.

On January 17, 1961, the newly appointed Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba killed. Eight months later, on september 18, crashed the plane of the then UN secretary-general dag Hammarskj …

On January 17, 1961, the newly appointed Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba killed. Eight months later, on september 18, crashed the plane of the then UN secretary-general dag Hammarskjöld. Continue to be the two most controversial events of the period shortly after the Congolese independence. Of Lumumba is that he was murdered with the direct involvement of the Belgians and the Americans. The death of Hammarskjöld was never clarified.

The Swede flew in the night of 17 on 18 september of Leopoldville (Kinshasa) to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). On neutral ground, he wanted a ceasefire, negotiate with Moïse Tshombe, the president of the Congo torn Katanga province. UN forces had been instructed to put an end to this secessie. The Swede never came. His DC-6 crashed near Ndola in the current Zambia.

For sixty years is the crash the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories. One of them pointed in the direction of Jan Van Risseghem, a Belgian pilot who, as a mercenary working for the Katangese air force. Van Risseghem, the son of a Belgian father and a British mother, was an adventurer who in 1940 together with his brother occupied Belgium had fled through wanderings through Europe, in England, the townspeople. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he specialized in night flights over German lines. After the war he married a British, moved to Belgium and went to work for Sabena. When he was fired, he worked for a while in the South African and the Rhodesische army, he as a mercenary joined the Katangese rebels.

Van Risseghem was one of the few who in that period flew a Fouga Magister, the aircraft that invariably surfaced in testimonies of un peacekeepers that were attacked by Katangese troops and mercenaries. But no research, including by the UN and by Sweden, could hardmaken that there is evil intent in the game was at the crash of the DC-6. Most of them kept it on a steering error of the pilot of the crashed aircraft.

In 2013 the British researcher Susan Williams is an impressive book, wrote about the case. In Who Killed Hammarskjöld? turn they questioned the official version. The UN decided the case to re-examine and forever put an end to the speculation. Among others, the Belgian intelligence services made documents from their archives. In the two UN reports that have since been released, the option of an attack is not excluded. Also the name of van Risseghem delves therein for the first time formally.

An important piece of evidence is the recently declassified telegram from the then Us ambassador in Congo, that he, the day after the crash to Washington sent, and in which he explicitly, a Belgian – he called him ” Box Riessghel’ – as a suspicious point.

War hero
In the meantime, there are again elements have surfaced which confirm that the Belgian, who twelve years ago as a ‘war hero’ died in the Antwerp Ribbon, in fact, was the pilot of the aircraft that the DC-6 brought down. In Cold Case Hammarskjold, a documentary from Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger, who about two weeks, premiered at the Sundance film festival, bears witness Pierre Coppens, a former paratrooper, that his friend Van Risseghem him in scents and colours has told how he the aircraft out of the sky shot. That writes The Observer, that the movie in the preview view.

The Swedish development aid worker Göran Björkdahl, the main protagonist in the film, got bitten by the case when he in 2007, the site of the crash is visited. He talked with eyewitnesses who reported that there was a second plane in the game and that she ‘unusual flashes of light and sounds’ heard. He doorploegde Swedish and UN-archives. In 2011, he wrote an op-ed in The Guardian in which he with certainty stated that Hammarskjöld was murdered by Katangese rebels, in command of the western powers which are sweet buns baked with Tshombe and the control of the Katangese soil resources did not want to lose.

The statements of Coppens that these power. Coppens tells the filmmakers how he Risseghem in 1965, got to know while training to be a paratrooper in Moorsele. There had Risseghem bragged how he orders had been given to an aircraft out of the air. He would not have known who it was. The pilot described how he and his Fouga Magister inside as much as possible had been stripped to make it lighter and to make room for a cannon. He would have ascended on a dusty track in Kipushi, which is much closer to Ndola lag, making the operation in a short time was able to get it done.

With the support of the West
The story of Coppens circulates longer. In the summer of 2017, he had already formally confirmed to The Standard. But Marion Fowkes, the widow of van Risseghem still in Ribbon, lives, denies it emphatically. Her husband was as a mercenary formally expelled from the UN and returned to Belgium. He could at the time of the crash are not in Katanga. That should also be found in his log book: in the month of september, the pilot barely flown.

But according to Göran Björkdahl is there with the log has been tampered with. The film Roger Bracco, another mercenary, to the word. He accuses Van Risseghem. But he does say that the names of the different copiloten and places in the log made up.

If that’s true, the question remains who gave the order for the murder. The suspicion goes to the western secret services. The Belgians, the Americans and the British, with interests in, among others, the mining company Union Minière, wanted the control over the resources of Katanga will not lose. They supported Tshombe and by him guided separation of the mijnprovincie Katange. To any interference of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was then at its most.

Official could the western powers, the secession of Katanga do not support it – they would therefore go against a UN peacekeeping operation which the Congolese army assisted in the fight against Tshombe. But behind the scenes they did that. The UN chief was to them a thorn in the eye. He was just a little too zealous in his mission to the Congo to reunite and the civil war in Katanga to end.

The UN that an attack on the plane the only theory is that they cannot refute. But there remain a lot of questions. Nowhere on the wreck were signs of kogelinslagen or bomschade. And how could Risseghem know where the DC-6 is exactly was? No one knew where it would come out flying. Also about the exact motives of a liquidation is no clarity. Came the command of the Katangese hardliners who wanted to prevent Tshombe talks held with the UN ceo? Were foreign intelligence services involved? Thereof lacking as yet any concrete evidence.

There is also recent research that the trace of an accident force to turn. A recent documentary on National Geographic (“the Deadly Mission”) comes to the conclusion that the aeroplane, when descending on a hill and flew that are not on the cards was identified. The only new element is a testimony of former military Pierre Coppens, since 2017, that his friend Van Risseghem the central figure in this case.

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