[In 2008 publiceerde het ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken een onderzoeksrapport naar de dood van RTL-camerman Stan Storimans in Georgië eerder dat jaar. Onderstaand de originele Engelstalige tekst*. Vreemd genoeg is deze niet meer te vinden op de website van Buitenlandse Zaken, noch die van de Tweede Kamer. Ik vind het via de ‘Wayback Machine‘, hdv]
Report of the Storimans investigative mission
20 October 2008
Events leading up top the incident 4
General situation in Gori on 11/12 August 2008
RTL team visit to Gori on 12 Augustus 2008
Reconstruction of events 5
There was great uncertainty regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of RTL cameraman Stan Storimans in the Georgian city of Gori on 12 August 2008. Requests to both the Georgian and Russian authorities for information that might clarify the situation failed to yield useful information.
On 25 August 2008 the Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed a mission to gather factual information that could clarify the circumstances in which Mr Storimans died in the city of Gori on 12 August 2008. The mission was headed by former ambassador Mr A.P.R. Jacobovits de Szeged and former commander of the Royal Military and Border Police Lt. Gen. (Retd.) M.A. Beuving.
The mission conducted its investigation in Georgia from 29 August to 3 September 2008. The investigation included interviews with witnesses and with national and international authorities and organisations.
During a visit to Gori, local residents were interviewed, some of whom had been present during the incident. The damage that had been caused was also examined. A great deal of direct evidence had already been cleared away or moved in the period of nearly three weeks since the incident, but some materiel was secured nonetheless. The mission received a large quantity of indirect evidence, in the form of pho§to and video material, from journalists, security cameras and the Georgian authorities. The mission spoke to the Russian ambassador in Georgia and asked him to contact the Russian authorities responsible for operations around Gori on 12 August 2008. The mission was referred to the authorities in Moscow.
After returning to the Netherlands, the material was analysed with the assistance of the Ministry of Defence and the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI).
On 17 October 2008 the mission met with representatives of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence in Moscow and shared its findings with them. The Russian interlocutors did not respond to the findings in detail. They said that Russia did not have any information on the event and that they would thoroughly study the mission’s findings. They also expressed the hope that this issue would not adversely affect bilateral relations.
Events leading up to the incident
General situation in Gori on 11/12 August 2008
In the face of the Russian advance, all Georgian units hastily retreated. In the days leading up to 12 August, military targets in Gori were bombarded, during which blocks of flats next to a barracks complex were also hit. This resulted in several dozen casualties and fatalities. By 12 August, military and police units had abandoned Gori. Much of the population had also fled. A few elderly residents and some men who wanted to protect their shops and homes remained.
RTL team visits Gori on 12 August 2008
On 11 August, the RTL team, consisting of Mr Akkermans and Mr Storimans, was in Tbilisi. While there, they heard Gori and been deserted. They decided to visit Gori next day, and arranged for a taxi driver to take them there. The next morning they were joined by an Israeli journalist. The taxi containing Mr Akkermans, Mr Storimans and the Israeli journalist arrived in Gori at approximately 10:00 on 12 August. During their journey they had seen the bombardment of the hills around Gori but given the distance involved considered that this presented no danger. They examined several location in Gori, such as the the flats that had been hit, and also visited the hospital. At approximately 10:30 they stopped at the northeastern corner of the central square in Gori. Shortly before, two cars had collided on the deserted square a short distance away. The taxi drive, Mr Akkermans and the Israeli journalist stayed close to the taxi, where several other journalists had also gathered. Mr Storimans walked onto the square to shoot some footage, including the statue of Lenin. Mr Storimans was walking back to the taxi and had almost reached it when explosions occurred.
During the explosions, at least five people, including Mr Storimans, suffered fatal injuries. Several others were also injured; the Israeli journalist was seriously wounded, while Mr Akkermans and the taxi driver received minor injuries to their legs. Many buildings in the direct vicinity were hit and many windows were shattered. The buildings did not sustain any structural damage. Two small craters were evident in the square immediately after the explosion, together with the remains of a then-unidentified missile. The taxi was also hit.
Reconstruction of events
The mission reconstructed the events on the basis of the material gathered. The main sources are as follows.
- On-site investigation
During the on-site investigation, the mission was able to establish that the entire square and several nearby streets had been hit in the same manner. An area of around 300 by 500 meters was struck by small metal bullets measuring around 5 mm. It was deduced from the entry holes that the bullets were from multiple explosions, with on the ground and in the air. Bullets were removed from the walls and taken away for analysis. Photos were taken of various small craters, both on the square and in the nearby streets.
- Analysis of photo and video material
A large quantity of photo and video material from a variety of sources was made available to the mission. The main findings of the analysis are:
-Reuters captured the explosions on video, both from a distance and from inside the square itself. The explosions were also recorded by security cameras at two banks at the southern end of he square. Analysis of this material shows that the square and surrounding are were hit by about 20 explosions at around 10:45, and that each explosion scattered a large number of bullets. The explosions can be seen to occur with in the air and on the ground.
-Video material from various sources show that after the explosions on the Western side of the square, the head of a missile descended. The missile was photographed in detail by the Georgian authorities and simultaneously by teams from CNN and Sky News. Serial numbers can be seen on the underside of the missile head.
-Other photo material shows the carrier part of a rocket, which landed between blocks of flats in the direct vicinity of the square. Photos are also available from the Georgian authorities and from the NGO HALO Trust, which show that part of a rocket engine fell through a roof into a bedroom a few hundred meters from the square.
- Analysis of other material
The 5 mm bullets, which the mission found in the walls in Gori, which mr Akkermans retrieved from the taxi, and one of which was found in Mr Storimans’ body during the autopsy, were further analysed by the NFI and proved to be identical both optically and in terms of composition. The autopsy revealed that the bullet had fatally damaged Mr Storimans’ heart and lungs.
The explosions are consistent with submunitions from a cluster weapon exploding on the ground and in the air. The submunitions scattered large number of small bullets designed to eliminate military personnel.
Weapons of this kind are typically deployed in locations where large numbers of unprotected troops are concentrated, such as rear areas or barracks. Structural damage to matériel does not occur.
Cluster weapons can be conveyed to the target in various ways – by rocket, aircraft or artillery grenade.
Based on the available footage, it was established that the rocket remains found in and around the square were from a SS-26 rocket. This is confirmed both by visual characteristics and by the serial numbers found on the fragments and visible in the photos.
The SS-26 is a modern tactical ballistic rocket which is inly found in the weaponry of the Russian Federation. These rockets are able to hit a specified target over a distance of hundreds of kilometers to within an accuracy of about ten meters.
Based on its investigation, the mission draws the following conclusions:
- Stan Storimans died at approximately 10:45 on 12 August 2008 due to fatal injuries caused by a single 5 mm bullet from an anti-personnel submunition released by a cluster weapon.
- The area around the square in Gori, measuring about 300 by 500 meters, was hit by a cluster weapon comprising about 20 exploding submunitions, which scattered large numbers of small bullets. Mr Storimans and at least four other people were fatally wounded. Several other people suffered serious or minor bullet wounds.
- The cluster weapon must have been propelled by tactical ballistic rocket of type SS-26 from the Russian Federation.
The mission has established that these were the circumstances in which Mr Storimans died.