SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The battle against organised crime is complicated but will ultimately be won, prime minister Mark Rutte told parliament on Thursday.
Speaking during two days of debate on the government’s 2020 spending plans, Rutte referred to the murder on Wednesday of lawyer Derk Wiersum, who was shot dead near his home on the southern edge of Amsterdam.
Wiersum was defending a crown witness in a complicated drugs-related gangland killing trial. ‘Our opponent is not making things easier. The battle is complicated, but we will win,’ Rutte said.
Everyone involved in the legal system, he said, should be able to do their work in complete safety. The prime minister also made a direct appeal to recreational drug users who, he said, should consider the implications of taking a pill at a festival or sniffing cocaine at the weekend.
‘Many things are permitted in the Netherlands, but if you do this, you are contributing to the chain which is undermining the rule of law,’ the prime minister said. The prime minister was echoing Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom who told an international conference on drugs last year that weekend users are supporting violent crime.
There is a ‘hard and brutal world lurking behind that ‘innocent seeming’ little line or pill’, the police chief said.
This February influential police union labelled the Netherlands a narco state and at the end of August, a new report commissioned by Amsterdam’s mayor said that the city is unable to tackle drugs-related criminal activity.
Behind the scenes, the report said, the big drugs bosses have no trouble amassing large fortunes in what the Telegraaf called ‘a golden age for the Amsterdam drugs criminals’.
Earlier on Thursday, justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus, who met police chiefs to discuss the situation on Thursday morning, said he backed setting up a specialist police unit to focus on drugs crime.