Exclusive: Cold case documentary casts new light on mystery of Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane crash New evidence has emerged linking an RAF veteran to the death in 1961 of the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld in a mysterious plane crash in southern Africa. Jan van Risseghem has been named as a possible attacker before, but has always been described simply as a Belgian pilot. The Observer can now reveal that he had extensive ties to Britain, including a British mother and wife, trained with the RAF and was decorated by Britain for his service in the second world war. Film-makers investigating the 1961 crash for a documentary, Cold Case Hammarskjöld, have found a friend of Van Risseghem who claimed the pilot confessed to shooting down the UN plane. They also gathered testimony from another pilot that undermines one of his alibis for that night. Van Risseghem, whose father was Belgian, escaped occupied Europe at the start of the war to join the resistance in England. He trained with the RAF and flew missions over Nazi-held areas. During this period he met and married his British wife, cementing a lifelong connection.
Man accused of shooting down UN chief: ‘Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to…’
At the end of the war the couple returned to Belgium, but by 1961 Van Risseghem was in the Congo, flying for separatist rebels who had declared independence for the breakaway province of Katanga. There, the documentary claims, he was ordered to shoot down a plane carrying Hammarskjöld, who was on a secret midnight journey to try to broker peace. The film will premiere at the Sundance festival in two weeks.
It was not clear at the time of the crash, which also killed all 15 people travelling with the secretary general, if it had been caused by sabotage or was a tragic accident. More than half a century later the UN is still investigating what happened on 18 September 1961. But as news of Hammarskjöld’s death emerged, the RAF veteran was apparently an obvious suspect. He was named as the possible attacker by the US ambassador to the Congo, in a secret cable sent the day of Hammarskjöld’s death and only recently declassified.
Von Caj Bremer – http://hs13.snstatic.fi/webkuva/taysi/1920/1437792320887, Gemeinfrei, Link