Dutch cameraman killed by Russian cluster bomb: Report

August 15th, 2008 - 2:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Amsterdam, Aug 15 (DPA) International rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) told media Friday it has evidence RTL television cameraman Stan Storimans was killed by Russian cluster bombs, despite an international ban on such bombs. Storimans was killed in the Georgian city of Gori while covering the conflict over South Ossetia between Georgia and Russia.

Two other journalists, Dutch Jeroen Akkermans and Israeli Zadok Yehezkeli, sustained injuries in the same incident.

HRW says it spoke with several eye witnesses and documented video and photo material of the damage caused by the bombing that killed seven.

In May, more than 100 countries banned the use of cluster bombs at a convention in Ireland.

A cluster bomb contains many bomblets which explode on touching the ground. However, international experts say many of them do not explode immediately, causing injuries to civilians up to years after a conflict has ended.

The HRW report comes one day after Dutch journalists association NVJ told Dutch media it would investigate the death of the Dutch cameraman.

Meanwhile, the Dutch wife of Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili sent an e-mail to Dutch news wire ANP Friday expressing her sorrow over the death of the Dutch cameraman.

Saakashvili Wednesday told international media his wife would be present at the Dutch cameraman’s funeral, the date of which is still unknown.

In a statement issued early Friday from Tbilisi, HRW condemned the practise, which it claimed to have documented from airstrikes Tuesday in two Georgian cities.

“Cluster bombs are indiscriminate killers that most nations have agreed to outlaw,” said Marc Garlasco, HRW senior military analyst.

“Russia should never have fired cluster munitions against a town in Georgia, and now it should help in the clean-up to avoid any more deaths.”

The New York-based group said that RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 submunitions, were dropped from Russian aircraft.

HRW researchers inside the Georgian war zone interviewed wounded survivors and medical and military personnel, and obtained a video of one strike and photos of craters and bomb remnants, all confirming its conclusions.

A Tbilisi doctor gave the group a piece of apparent bomblet shrapnel removed from the skull of one patient.

The alleged cluster-bomb strikes took place Tuesday in Ruisi, a town in Georgia’s Kareli district, and in Gori, a Georgian city near the border with the breakaway region of South Ossetia, where the conflict with Russia broke out on Aug 7.

In all, at least 11 civilians were killed and dozens wounded in the two attacks. The Gori strike killed Dutch journalist Stan Storimans, seriously wounded Israeli journalist Zadok Yehezkeli and damaged an armoured car used by the Reuters news agency.

At a conference in May, 107 countries agreed to ban cluster munitions. Neither Russia nor Georgia participated in the talks.

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