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FMD outbreak Kootwijkerbroek: will there finally be clarity after 18 years?

"Dad, she's got it!" Shouts a boy stabbed in green peasant everywhere. He has been grabbed by civilian agents and is being taken away. He is one of the young people who wants to prevent animals from being killed in 2001. The ME supervises the clearing teams that are opposed by the villagers.

Fight from the village to the courtroom

There is a grim atmosphere in the Veluwe village near Barneveld. Rows with buses from the mobile unit are arranged. The government intervenes to tackle the animal disease FMD. It has turned up in various places in the Veluwe. But the residents of Kootwijkerbroek do not believe that the disease is in their village.

Eighteen years after the FMD crisis, the struggle for various stakeholders is not over yet. They never believed that there was actually an outbreak of infectious animal disease.

In 2001 this led to riots in the village, now the fight is being waged in the courtroom. There are currently proceedings pending before the highest court. The question is whether the government has rightly taken the decision to kill the animals.

FMD broke out in the Netherlands in 2001. At every outbreak, farms were vaccinated in a ring around the infected farm. The disease is not dangerous for people was told. Yet all vaccinated animals had to be killed and destroyed. This is due to the then applicable export rules. Sixty thousand animals were killed around Kootwijkerbroek.

For more than 18 years, livestock farmer Gert-Jan Dokter has been fighting the decision that his animals were killed. Together with other cattle farmers and researcher Lau Jansen, they embark on a lawsuit against the State.

After years of litigation and the disclosure of documents, it is becoming increasingly clear on what the government based the decision. The working method of the ID-Lelystad research laboratory was also investigated. At the time, the lab did the tests that FMD had to prove at a company.

Expert judgment

The file has now been on the table for seven years at the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb). It is the highest economic court in the Netherlands. The case is coming to an end. A special committee with three experts, including virologist Ab Osterhaus, has been asked to look at the file.

The three drew up a report in which they critically judge the laboratory and the quality and accuracy of the tests. The experts must advise the judge in this extensive file. On Monday they will explain the report during a session in The Hague.

Clarity after eighteen years

Those involved expect it to be one of the last sessions in the case. The CBb hopes to be able to make a decision before the summer. So that after 18 years it can finally become clear whether the decision was right to act in Kootwijkerbroek.

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