Soualiga Newsday Focus

Soualiga Newsday Focus (1800)

Stalker who murdered school girl faces 20 years in jail, psychiatric prison

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man who murdered a 16-year-old girl in the bike sheds next to her school after stalking her for months should be jailed for 20 years, followed by psychiatric prison, the public prosecution department said on Friday.

Bekir E is on trial for killing the girl just 45 minutes before she was due to meet police to talk about being stalked. In September, an official report into the murder said the police and social services showed ‘serious shortfalls’ in the way they protected Humeyra Ergincanli, after she reported being threatened by her former boyfriend.

Officials showed ‘insufficient care’ for the girl’s protection and failed to share information about how she was being stalked, the report said.

Bekir E, who had been given a suspended jail term and banned from contacting the girl in August last year, has admitted the murder, saying he was under the influence of cocaine at the time and did not intend to kill her.

Humeyra had a short relationship with him, but broke if off after discovering he was 30.



Eindhoven station arrestee is wanted in shooting investigation

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man arrested by heavily-armed police on a train waiting in Eindhoven station on Thursday evening is wanted in connection with a shooting in Dordrecht on October 18, police said on Friday.

The man, who is 24, is the third suspect to be arrested in connection with the incident, in which a 17-year-old youth was shot and seriously injured.

The arrest caused chaos for train travellers, who were kept waiting for almost two hours while police in combat gear combed trains looking for the suspect. Photographs show the young man, surrounded by police on the stairs at the station after his arrest.



Ministers poised to back arming police with electronic stun guns

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Ministers are poised to agree to equip the police with weapons which deliver an electric shock, sources have told broadcaster RTL Nieuws.

The cabinet will spend €30m to ensure that all police officers ‘who need one’ have a taser in their standard equipment and get training in their use. This, RTL said, means front-line officers who may have to defend themselves will be given the weapon.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs in September that he backs arming the police with electronic stun weapons such as tasers, if the introduction is done with caution.

His comments came after Dutch police chief Erik Akerboom called on ministers to include electronic stun guns in the regular police kit immediately. ‘Introduce it,’ Akerboom is quoted as saying in the Telegraaf.

‘Things are taking too long. Politicians must act, especially since the recent spate of violent attacks on officers.’ Last November, police officials told the justice ministry that electric shock weapons such as tasers should become part of the equipment used by police officers on emergency service duty.

They said stun guns should be available to all police teams which are called out on emergencies. It will take five years before the introduction because 17,000 officers need to undergo special training to use the weapons, police said at the time.

In June 2018, a report on a yearlong trial by the police academy found that tasers do have ‘added value’ for the police and that the threat of use was enough to calm the situation down in six out of 10 cases.

Tasers work by firing electric charges of around 50,000 volts at a suspect from a distance, temporarily disabling them. Police say the danger of serious or permanent injury is minimal, but experts disagree on the risk to the heart.



Dutch seaweed-based fuel powers car to 80 kph in Danish trial

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Researchers in Denmark have achieved speeds of up to 80 kph using a car powered by Dutch biofuel made from seaweed.

The seaweed fuel was produced by scientists at the TNO research centre in Petten and at Wageningen University and is part of an EU-funded project to develop new fuels using seaweed and algae.

‘We’ve looked to see if seaweed fuel works in the same way as ordinary fuel and what its effect is on the motor,’ researcher Jaap van Hal told local newspaper Noordhollands Dagblad.

‘This means that this fuel could be used for private cars in the future, but seaweed fuel is also interesting for aviation and shipping.’ Seaweed is quick and easy to grow, making it highly suitable for biofuels, as well as food and bioplastics.



The Hague anti-Piet demonstration can go ahead, councillors say

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Campaigners opposed to the use of blackface in the annual Sinterklaas celebrations can go ahead and demonstrate during Saturday’s parade in The Hague, councillors have agreed.

The Hague is the only one of the four big cities to continue to include blackface Piets in its parade, although there are plans to change that next year. Campaign group Kick Out Zwarte Piet had asked councillors for permission to stage a demonstration after the city’s biggest political party called for a ban.

Acting mayor Johan Remkes said he saw no reason to ban the protest. On Friday, pro blackface Piet activists in The Hague attacked a building where KOZP members were meeting, smashing windows and car windscreens.

Five people were arrested, one of whom remains in custody. KOZP spokesman Jerry Afriyie has criticised Remkes for not denouncing the attack. ‘You should have condemned this, and we have not noticed you doing so,’ he said during the council meeting.

‘The mayor wants to know exactly what happened before commenting,’ Remkes said.


The Sinterklaas season kicks off on Saturday when the ‘arrival’ of St Nicholas takes place in Apeldoorn and is shown live on television.

Apeldoorn too will feature only sooty-faced Piets in its parade, although pro-blackface demonstrators have pledged to hold their own protest. This year anti-blackface demonstrators will protest in Alkmaar, Curaçao, Den Bosch, Dordrecht, Eindhoven, Groningen, Hoorn, Leeuwarden and Nijmegen as well as The Hague.

‘Not everyone feels safe to demonstrate because of the aggressiveness of the pro-Piets,’ the campaign group said. ‘It is understandable, but that is what the pro-Piets want.

But KOZP has good contacts with local mayors and the police and will also have its own security.’ Last year pro-blackface Piets attacked anti-Piet demonstrators at a number of locations and dozens were arrested.



Dutch school books stereotype men, women and ethnic minorities: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch schoolbooks are providing children stereotypical images of men, women and people with different ethnic minority backgrounds, according to Leiden researcher Judi Mesman.

Mesman and her team analysed 16 maths and 17 Dutch textbooks used by pupils in their first year of secondary school and found women and people with a minority background are both underrepresented.

‘If you feel that your textbook is about you, this motivates you. It gives you the idea that you too can do it,’ Mesman said. Previous research has shown, for instance, that girls understand chemistry texts better if these are accompanied by pictures of female scientists rather than only pictures of male ones, she said.

The research team discovered just 28% of the characters with a job were women, while men were over-represented as scientists, athletes or as doing some technical. People with an ethnic minority background were more likely to have a low status job such as truck driver.

In total, the researchers identified nearly 13,000 characters in the 33 books. Mesman also found only 9% of the characters had ‘non-Western names’ even though people with ethnic minority roots make up 13.4% of the population.

In terms of pictures, however, non-westerners accounted for 16% of the characters. ‘It would appear that those providing illustrations for the books are more aware of depicting different ethnic backgrounds,’ says Mesman.

‘Perhaps because a picture says more than a name in a text.’ Interpreting the likely impact of the under-representation and stereotypes is difficult, Mesman says, adding that obvious stereotypes were rare.

Hidden messages

‘But children are very sensitive to subtle, hidden messages,’ she said. ‘Our research shows that stereotypes have also crept into textbooks, albeit unconsciously. Now it is up to the publishers to make a conscious decision about how they want to deal with sex and ethnicity in their books.’

‘The publishers cooperated with this study from the outset because they too are keen to hear the results,’ said Stephan de Valk, director of GEU, the branch organisation for providers of learning resources and tests.

‘The publishers will discuss the results with their authors so that the unconscious stereotyping referred to in the reports can be avoided in future.’



Criminals launder €13bn a year in the Netherlands, most crime cash is Dutch

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least €13bn is laundered through the Netherlands on an annual basis, with most of the money coming from Dutch criminal enterprises, according to new research quoted in the Finanancieele Dagblad.

Utrecht University professor Brigitte Unger estimates that half the €16bn generated by crime in the Netherlands is laundered through Dutch institutions, with the rest – some €5bn – coming from abroad.

This, the FD said, shows that the Netherlands is not as popular a place to launder money as some claim. For example, some €340bn a year is laundered through Britain and the US, the paper said.

This represents some 40% of the total amount estimated to be laundered via the 36 OECD countries. Together, the laundered money accounts for some 1.6% of Dutch GDP, Unger said at a closed meeting to discuss her research.

She and her team were given access to highly confidential police, fraud squad, public prosecution and tax information to carry out the research, as well as suspicious transaction information from banks and casinos.

Earlier this year, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported on a money laundering operation which moved billions of euros out of Russia and of which almost €1bn of the money ended up in the Netherlands.

And in September, ABN Amro confirmed the Dutch public prosecution department had launched a criminal investigation into possible money laundering at the bank. ING has also been fined €775m for failing to comply properly with money laundering rules.



Long waiting lists cripple help for anorexia patients, special centres are being set up

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The government is setting up two regional eating disorder expertise centres after being warned that more people will die of anorexia if specialist help is not ramped up.

K-EET, a team of doctors and psychiatrists set up by health minister Hugo de Jonge earlier this year to monitor help for anorexia sufferers, says long waiting lists and a lack of cohesion in services is crippling help for anorexia patients.

Young people who are early sufferers are not helped in time and their situation quickly worsens, K-EET said. Specialist clinics are already overwhelmed, and patients have to wait over 14 weeks on average for help.

‘We have seen that decentralisation away from the services offered locally has made things worse for people with an eating disorder,’ K-EET project leader Monica Scholten told broadcaster NOS.

‘Because local councils no longer have this duty of care, a link in the chain has disappeared and offering proper care has become more difficult.’ The lack of cooperation and knowledge is another problem, Scholten said.

K-EET has drawn up a roadmap for the next three years aimed at bringing together professionals, increase knowledge and improving cooperation across the regions. Two specialist centres will now open in 2020 and more will follow in 2021, the minister said.

Some 200,000 people have anorexia in the Netherlands and around 10% of patients die.



Man arrested for threatening to blow himself up in support of Zwarte Piet

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man has been arrested in The Hague for threatening to blow himself up in support of the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet, who has been phased out of many big city Sinterklaas parades.

The man made the threat on Facebook this weekend, and police received several reports from worried people who had seen the posting. The man, aged 49, was arrested on Monday.

The suspect told police that he was sorry about the message, which he had made in reaction to another post. No explosives were found during a search of his home. Nevertheless, he remains in custody and will appear in court on Thursday for a remand hearing.

Police said in a statement that the man had been arrested for crossing the boundary of what is acceptable, by threatening to commit an act which would lead to innocent people being hurt.



Man who stabbed joggers is jailed on four counts of attempted murder

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man who stabbed several women from a driving car while they were out jogging, or cycling has been found guilty of four counts of attempted murder.

The attacks took place over a three-month period in Noord Holland, leading police to warn women not to go out running or cycling alone in the area where the attacks took place.

René V from Julianadorp was sentenced to six years in jail to be followed by psychiatric prison. The court said it was a miracle that no-one had died. V was also found guilty of attempting to run over one of the women, of threatening several women with rape and stalking.

Two of his victims were stabbed in the arm and two in the chest. One victim spent two days in intensive care after the knife almost touched her heart.

Experts told the court that V was suffering from diminished responsibility, has several personality disorders and that his addiction to amphetamines was also a major issue. He had admitted the attacks shortly after being arrested.


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