Belgian soldiers to sue over Balkan syndrome

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The Independent Online

A group of Belgian soldiers is planning a civil suit against the government because of health problems allegedly caused during their mission in the Balkans, union officials said today.

A group of Belgian soldiers is planning a civil suit against the government because of health problems allegedly caused during their mission in the Balkans, union officials said today.

The group will meet with lawyers later in the week to coordinate their action.

Following missions in Croatia and Bosnia from 1992 to 1999, five Belgian soldiers have died of cancer and four more are suffering from the disease.

The group said it only decided to go to a civil court after it was frustrated by the military's lack of action. It was still unclear how many soldiers would join the action, which is coordinated by the military's official union.

Defense Minister Andre Flahaut has said that the number of cancer cases afflicting Balkan veterans did not exceed that of the civilian population.

The Defense Ministry has sent a health questionnaire to 12,000 soldiers who were stationed in the Balkans and plans to publish the results in the coming months.

The military is also checking the health of soldiers who have been on missions in Kosovo over the past 18 months.

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