After more than eighteen litigation, the highest economic court, the Commercial and Industrial Court of Appeal (CBb) in The Hague, will rule in the Kootwijkerbroek case. Farmers and their supporters will hear the verdict until January 7th.
written by Ruben van der Scheer
"All sorts of memories come back." In his last word, cattleman Gert-Jan Dokter tells the judges. "The first rumors were that the samples were taken. That there was a positive test. That the company had to clean up. But in Kootwijkerbroek, no animals got sick."
It's quiet in the courtroom when the doctor utters his last words. It is the last session of the trial that began in 2001. In March of the same year, an infectious foot-and-mouth disease virus erupted in the Netherlands. The virus was not said to be dangerous to humans, but due to export regulations, sick and vaccinated animals had to be killed.
Positive and negative results
At Kootwijkerbroek, there was a positive result for a company. Businesses in the radius around it are vaccinated. About sixty thousand animals were killed. The village resisted and unrest ensued. The tests are believed to be incorrect. It was the beginning of a legal battle that continued to this day.
Although the session only lasts for a few hours, tests and any comments that may be made about it are again taken into account. Farmers' lawyers continue to point out whether the defects and tests used were not in accordance with the rules.
The ministry that made the decision defends the decision to intervene even today. He states that there is sufficient evidence that the result was positive. "It was explained why that decision had to be made." Attorney Batting responds at the end of the session. "All the positive results that have been received and that have led to action had to be taken into account."
Three experts examined the file. They concluded that it was no longer possible to determine whether FMD was in Kootwijkerbroek. "It cannot be said with certainty that the FMD virus was present on the farm," says virologist Ab Osterhaus, one of three experts. "But with a positive result, the consequences for the country can be enormous. Therefore, this cut-off was probably inevitable," says Osterhaus.
The final word is now on the judge who, after more than eighteen years, has to make a final judgment in the Kootwijkerbroek file.
Read also: end of case of foot-and-mouth Kootwijkerbroek in sight