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Soualiga Newsday Focus (534)

Sexual assault victim tracks attacker via phone, shocked at police delays

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A woman from Hoorn who tracked down the Somali man who she claims attacked her and handed his details over to the police has been shocked by the police file on her case, the Telegraaf said on Thursday.

‘We were trying to find out why the investigation had proceeded so slowly,’ a spokesman for the woman said. ‘But there was no reason, and if we had not acted, that monster would still be walking round free.’

The suspect, 28-year-old Mohammed M, was arrested on February 27, four months after the attack, and is due to appear in court charged with theft and attempted rape on Friday.

The woman traced M because he stole her mobile phone during the attack and had used it to make calls and selfies. She traced the phone using the Find my iPhone app, told the police and showed them photographs of the man she claims attacked her.

A police spokesman told the Telegraaf that the fact someone had a stolen phone in their possession is not proof that they were also the attacker. ‘We went to the home where the phone was said to be four times, but each time the facts did not add up.’


A spokesman for police union Nederlandse Politiebond told the paper that there is a chronic shortage of detectives but that there is a risk attached to people hunting down criminals themselves.

‘There is a risk that people will end up not believing in the legal system,’ union chairman Jan Struijs told the paper. ‘That they think that they can take the law into their own hands.’

The paper also said the police had failed to contact two key witnesses who lived opposite the place where the woman was attacked. The two were known to the suspect and have important information, the paper said. (DutchNews)


Surprise surprise: part of former Dutch palace to become a hotel

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Soestdijk palace, lived in by Queen Juliana and prince Bernhard for over 60 years until their deaths in 2004 is to be turned into a hotel complex with exhibition space.

The palace began life as a 17th century hunting lodge but was enlarged considerably over time and has been empty for the past 13 years. The winning project Made in Holland is paying the Dutch state €1.7m for the estate, which also includes other buildings and extensive grounds.

Three projects were shortlisted but this was the highest bid. The top floor of the building will be turned into a hotel with 14 rooms, while the ground floor will be devoted to exhibitions highlighting Dutch enterprise and innovation, such as in the fields of architecture, agriculture, the environment and water.

The plan also includes demolishing the former police barracks and replacing them with some 65 houses. The stables will be converted into a hospitality centre and other hotel facilities will also be built in the grounds. The work will take 10 to 15 years to complete. (DutchNews)


International school shortage starts to bite

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands risks losing out in the battle to attract international companies and highly-skilled workers if it fails to tackle the shortage of international school places, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday.

Next week, a committee set up by the education and economic affairs ministries is due to report back on plans to reduce the waiting lists. The FD says it has drawn up a list of 16 initiatives to boost the number of places.

Earlier this year, the government also announced plans to invest nearly €11m on increasing the supply of international school places in The Hague and Rotterdam. The number of children attending international schools has risen 47% over the past five years and half the country’s schools are said to have a waiting list.

The waiting lists are making The Hague an unattractive place for expats and therefore businesses, Wim Rutgers of the WestHolland Foreign Investment Agency told the paper.

Robert Westlake, chairman of the Dutch International Primary Schools Association, told the paper: ‘Expats only want to work somewhere if their children can go to school. And if they can’t, they won’t come to the Netherlands.’

Amsterdam, where the situation is particularly acute, is planning to ‘expand existing schools, open new schools and connect international and national education’ in an effort to cut waiting lists, Alderman Kajsa Ollongren said. (DutchNews)


Girls, 14 and 15, report to police after attack on young lesbian couple

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two girls aged 14 and 15 have reported to the police in connection with last week’s attack on an 18-year-old girl in central Rotterdam who was walking hand in hand with her girlfriend.

The attack happened on the Schouwburgplein in the early evening. According to the victim, who reported the incident to the police, she was shouted at and beaten up by two girls and a boy, who was aged around 12.

Last weekend, police issued an appeal for more information about the attack and published a description of the attackers. They are also studying camera footage in a bid to trace witnesses.

The gang are also wanted in connection with a second attack on a passerby a day later. That incident was not triggered by the victim’s sexual orientation, the police said.

On Tuesday, some 200 people took part in a demonstration on the square to show their solidarity with the victims by holding hands and forming an enormous circle. (DutchNews)


More doubt about Breda Six convictions in Chinese restaurant murder

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Six people from Breda twice convicted of murdering the mother of a Chinese restaurant owner in 1993, may not be guilty after all, the advocate general of the Dutch Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

The advocate general, whose advice is not binding on the Supreme Court, said there is not enough evidence to convict the six, and that the case should be referred back to the appeal court for a re-think.

It is the second time the Supreme Court has ordered the case be looked at again. In 2012 the court ordered the case be heard again after new facts emerged about the murder of Tim Mui Cheug, who worked in her son’s Chinese restaurant Peacock in Breda.

The new evidence included an eyewitness who was waiting at a bus stop opposite the restaurant and who heard nothing and traces of blood at the scene which did not come from the victim or the six suspects.

At the original trial in 1994, three men and three women were found guilty of involvement in the murder. The men were jailed for 10 years, the women for two. All deny any involvement in the crime and all have since served their sentences.

The Supreme Court is due to announce its decision in December. (DutchNews)


People in their 20s now earn less than they did 10 years ago

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two years ago, people in their 20s had less to spend than they did in 2004, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday, quoting figures from national statistics office CBS.

In 2004, the average income for someone in their 20s was €24,000 but that had gone down to €23,000 by 2014, the CBS said. Over the same period, people in their 30s saw their income rise from an average €25,000 to €26,000.

‘This partly due to luck, because many people in their 20s joined the labour market at the height of the economic crisis and did not always find a job,’ chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen told the broadcaster.

‘And if they did find one, it was often below their level of education.’ The increase in the number of short-term contracts has also played a part because these jobs tend to have lower pay rates, Van Mulligen said. Although the figures date from 2014, the CBS says it has no reason to think the overall picture changed in 2015 and 2016. (DutchNews)


Rotterdam mayor says PVV should be in cabinet negotiations

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has told the AD newspaper he believes Geert Wilders’ anti-Islam PVV should be involved in the current talks on forming a new government, but not necessarily that the party should be part of the coalition.

The PVV came a narrow second in the March 15 general election and has 20 seats in the 150 seat parliament, one more than D66 and the Christian Democrats who are involved in the talks with the ruling VVD.

However, the PVV has been excluded from the negotiating table because all the big parties have said they will not work with the party following anti-Moroccan comments made by Wilders.

‘To me it would be logical for all the parties from centre to the right wing get round the table,’ he told the paper in an interview. ‘The PVV is part of the right wing so they should be there too.

I think that does justice to the vote. But I am not saying the VVD and CDA should form a cabinet with the PVV.’

Development aid

Aboutaleb, who has Moroccan roots and is a Labour party supporter, said that much more should be done in terms of development cooperation and reducing climate change to stem migration and head off the right-wing challenge.

‘What if we stopped putting the money that we in Europe loose on taking care of refugees into the regions that they come from?’ he said. ‘Believe you me, it takes something to migrate.

I am a migrant and it is the highest price you can pay… your social environment and family structure is broken. ‘If you can ensure better food provision, better education and the like, then people will be less keen to leave.’


Aboutaleb, himself a Muslim, is known for his outspoken stance on radical Islam. Two years ago he broke with the Labour party line and said Dutch nationals who have decided they want to travel to Syria to join Islamic militias should be allowed to go but should be banned from coming back to the Netherlands.

‘I want to make sure those who are considering going to Syria know exactly what is at risk,’ Aboutaleb said. ‘If you think this society is depraved, then go. But there is no way back. Hand over your passport and risk getting bombed.’ (DutchNews)


Police make two arrests in teen murders, say no connection

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police have arrested two teenage boys in their investigation into the deaths of two 14-year-old girls last week, but say they do not think the cases are connected.

‘Given the information the investigation has turned up so far, they would appear to be two separate cases,’ police are quoted as saying in the Telegraaf. A 14-year-old boy from Ede has been arrested in connection with the death of Romy Nieuwburg, whose body was found in water in a nature reserve in Achterveld, east of Amersfoort on Friday afternoon.

In the second case, the death of Savannah Dekker, a 16-year-old boy from Den Bosch has been arrested. She had been reported missing after failing to return home from school on Thursday evening.

Police have not said anything about the cause of death but did say the girl’s black bike had been found in Hoogland, on the outskirts of Amersfoort on Friday. It had been locked up close to a bus stop.

According to the Telegraaf, the youth may have met Savannah online and her family had thought she may have been with him at a secret address. Both arrests were made on Sunday night, police said.

They have declined to make any comment about the relationships between the two boys who have been picked up and their suspected victims or how they were identified. (DutchNews)


Children from donor sperm win right to collect fertility clinic doctor’s DNA

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – More than 20 children conceived with sperm from a fertility clinic run by the late doctor Jan Karbaat have won the right to have his DNA examined, after a court ruling in Rotterdam on Friday.

The judge ruled that samples from 27 items confiscated after Karbaat died in April can be used to make a DNA profile. Karbaat, who died aged 89, has been accused of using his own sperm to father scores of children at the Medisch Centrum Bijdorp, which he ran from the back of his house in Barendrecht, near Rotterdam.

‘Fresh seed’

The clinic was closed in 2009 for failing to meet storage standards and irregularities over paperwork. Many children conceived through donor sperm have raised concerns that ‘fresh seed’ the doctor reportedly said he was fetching, was his own.

Twelve children and 10 parents had mounted a court case to try to test their DNA against Karbaat’s, against the will of his widow – who has not spoken publicly but has been represented in court by lawyer Lisette de Haan.

Positive matches

But, after the last sitting on May 12, Karbaat’s legal son voluntarily gave his DNA to the FIOM bank and allowed people who were registered there to be tested against this. Last week, 18 people conceived through donor sperm from the clinic were confirmed as almost certainly Karbaat’s, reported NRC.

The court ruling, however, says Karbaat’s own DNA can be examined from confiscated items – reportedly including a toothbrush, nose hair trimmer and support stockings – but must be sealed.

Any plaintiffs will need to start a new case to have their DNA tested against this.

Anger and angst

Pelle Biesmeijer, a spokesman for the court in Rotterdam, told that this is because the FIOM tests happened after the last sitting and – under Dutch law – cannot be considered.

‘The fact that there is this match makes the case stronger,’ he said. ‘In principle, they could start another court case in two weeks. The family of Mr Karbaat could also voluntarily allow his DNA to be tested against theirs.’

Dutch law limits the number of people who can be conceived from one sperm donor to 25, and children have the right to find out their donor’s identity when they are 16.

People born with donor sperm from Karbaat’s clinic have told Dutch media about their anger and angst about the doctor apparently ‘unethically’ using his own sperm. (DutchNews)


Wilders under investigation after Austrian complains about comments on Islam

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch prosecution service is investigating statements on Islam by far-right politician Geert Wilders following an official request from Austria, reports the AD on Friday. Austria has requested that the Dutch government pursue a complaint on comments made by Wilders during a 2015 speech in Vienna, calling Islam an ‘ideology of war and hatred.’

He also said, reports the AD, that: ‘Islam calls people to be terrorists: the Koran leaves no doubt about it.’ A Muslim organisation in Vienna had reported the speech to Austrian police in 2015, sparking an investigation there.

Now, spokesperson Nina Bussek reportedly told the AD, they have decided not to pursue the complaint but to ‘transfer it to colleagues in the Netherlands. The OM prosecution service in The Hague has confirmed that it has taken on the case to several newspapers on Friday.

Wilders was accused of ‘verhetzung’, a crime similar to rioting and for which several Viennese politicians have received suspended sentences, under stricter Austrian law.

‘Nazi rhetoric’

He had been invited to speak by sister Austrian party, the Freedom Party (FPO), and a day later it was reported that chairman of the Austrian Muslim Initiative Tarafa Baghajati had made an official complaint.

‘Wilders gave the impression that all Muslims are here to make war against Europeans,’ he reportedly said. ‘It made me think above all of the Nazi rhetoric of the 1930s.’ He had complained about the Freedom Party but the Viennese court decided to start a preliminary investigation into Wilders.

Early on Friday morning, Wilders responded to the AD story, tweeting that it was ‘incomprehensible’ and that ‘they should be catching thieves and terrorists instead of persecuting a politician for speaking the truth about Islam’.

He tagged his response #legaljihad.

Previous trials

Last year, Wilders was found guilty of inciting racial discrimination and insulting Moroccan people in the Netherlands after leading a rally calling for ‘fewer, fewer Moroccans’ in the country.

He was given no punishment, and is appealing the conviction. In 2011 he was acquitted of inciting hatred against Muslims after comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, as the judge ruled he was attacking Islam and not all Muslim believers, and his comments were ‘acceptable within the context of public debate.’

Wilders’ PVV party won the second-highest number of seats at the general election in March, but the other main parties have refused to work with it in a coalition. (DutchNews)

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