Did a Belgian mercenary pilot shoot down the DC-6 of UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961?

The DC-6 crash site

A Belgian mercenary is one of the authors of one of the most mysterious political crimes of the 20th century: RAF veteran and former Sabena pilot Jan Van Risseghem was at the helm of the Fouga Magister jet that shot down the plane in which Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, was travelling during the night of 17 to 18 September 1961, reported Belgian newspaper De Morgen on Sunday.

Sweden’s Dag Hammarskjöld is the second Secretary-General of United Nations history. He died on September 18, 1961, when his DC-6 crashed near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. Fifteen people on board died immediately, and the only survivor in hospital a few days later. The UN boss was then on his way to negotiate a ceasefire for the province of Katanga in the Congo, a region rich in minerals. Belgian mercenaries were hired as pilots for the Fouga Magister jets of Avikat, the Air Force of Katanga, which wanted to secede from Congo.

The exact circumstances of the accident have never been elucidated. Two investigations concluded that there was a pilot error. But in 2017, a new report deemed “plausible” the assumption of a deliberate attack.

According to De Morgen, a documentary to be released at the end of this month by Danish journalist Mads Brügger highlights a new testimony. Pierre Coppens, a former paratrooper who currently lives in Spain, claims to have received the confidences of Jan Van Risseghem.

I know that Jan Van Risseghem shot down the plane because he told me about it himself,” reports Pierre Coppens.

Jan Van Risseghem died in 2007. In Belgium, the two men met, a few years after the death of Dag Hammarskjöld. From April to June 1965, Pierre Coppens participated in an internship at the Moorsele airport, near Kortrijk, where Jan Van Risseghem was a pilot.

Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary-General of the United Nations


  1. The comments of a Belgian military pilot who says it is fake news: “It was a classical CFIT accident.
    But after so many thorough reports and analyses, people cannot simply accept this. A UN Secretary-General does not die in a stupid accident, caused by an inexperienced (For Africa) and overtired Swedish crew, flying a Swedish company airliner, with a Swedish UN Secretary-General, and many Swedish UN troops battling the Katangese gendarmes and mercenaries, including Belgians. So everybody tries to accuse the Belgians in this accident….O’Brien was the first one. This Irish UN responsible for the launching of the UN War in Katanga where this was the only peaceful region in the Former Belgian Congo at that time. The Fouga, flown by José Magain, created havoc and panic ON THE GROUND, with 50 kg bombs and two 7.62 machine guns and made O’Brien sick of panic when it attacked its Manor in Lubumbashi (pictures proof it). He hated the Belgians, and certainly after a complete Irish company had to surrender to “black” soldiers in Likassi. Luckily there were Belgians there that saved these soldiers lives after their capture and possible massacre by some others. The message from the American Ambassador was based upon O’Brien’s accusations. They thought there was a whole fleet of Fouga’s. However only ONE flew against the UN by attacking ground targets. It was flown by José Magain, with sometimes Delin in the backseat, up to 7 times ONLY DURING DAYLIGHT, and from Kolwezi airfield the only one that had an asphalted runway. No way this Fouga could have shot down the UN aircraft at night, ETD unknown, at that range…. All the post-crash indications point to only ONE possible cause: CFIT.”

  2. From an art. more tha a Year ago i learned that de voices of all the pilots concearned have being Taped by NSA and that other Belgian Pilots reconised the typical voice of a Belgian Pilot !


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