More than 60 nerve agent cases found on Dutch flights

Written by By André Schiklangen, CNN Amsterdam

More than 60 cases of VX nerve agent have been discovered on flights from Amsterdam to South Africa, an investigator told Dutch lawmakers Friday.

Tests have confirmed a nerve agent was used in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4. The victims remained in critical condition for weeks.

Investigators believe the nerve agent came from a container that had been used to store a chemical weapon for export and were unsure who handled it before it was taken to South Africa.

A chemical weapons expert said, however, that after producing VX in Russia, the information must have “spread through the chain of command,” according to a report by Dutch broadcaster RTL Thursday night.

Armed forces colonel Jan Willem van der Meulen said that a preliminary work “proves that it is Paddy Ashdown and Mr. Skripal in South Africa” and that it is assumed to be the VX nerve agent that was used in the UK incident.

“That is all that we can say. It is about one way to poison the person who is a suspect. It could be Paddy Ashdown or Sergei Skripal,” he said.

Van der Meulen said that the cases of poisoning people on Dutch flights from Skripal were consistent with “the notes of the chemical weapons experts in Scotland Yard, together with the reports from the Dutch anti-terrorist squad.”

Aircraft manufacturers, suppliers of equipment and airports are being investigated, he said.

“These airlines whose flight manifest shows when the boarding passes are distributed for the flight … at which table [on the flight manifest] they [the aircraft] are kept for a day, or where they are stored,” Van der Meulen said.

After the UK’s nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter in March, Van der Meulen said he could “not imagine” someone would fly a home-made gas canister and “not know that the person who travels in it knows what he is doing.”

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