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Soualiga Newsday Focus (1361)

RTL broadcasts photos showing terrorist suspects with bomb vests, guns

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Photos showing a group of suspected terrorists wearing bomb vests and waving Kalashnikov rifles while living in a house on a holiday park in Limburg have been broadcast by RTL news.

The photos come from police footage of the four men, who were arrested at the end of September in a string of raids in connection with what police said was ‘a major terrorist attack’. 

The images were made during a two-hour meeting between the suspects and two undercover police officers. The police were posing as arms traders who could supply weapons for an attack. 

The holiday house was bugged to collect evidence, RTL said. In total, seven people were arrested. They ranged in age from 21 to 34 and three of them, including the alleged ringleader, have previous convictions for attempting to join IS in Syria. 

Terrorism expert Jelle van Buuren told RTL that the photographs show that ‘here are people of conviction, busy practising for a major attack.’ RTL said the weapons had been made safe and there were no explosives in the bomb vests. 

The photos were taken on September 27, the same day the gang was rounded up. 

Tip-off 

The investigation began into the 34-year-old man police suspect to have led the cell in April, following a tip-off from the AIVD security service. 

The AIVD said the man, an Iraqi national, had been planning an attack at a major event in the Netherlands with the aim of creating as many victims as possible. Six of the suspects will appear in court for a remand hearing on Thursday. 

The seventh suspect was released from custody but is still formally considered a suspect.(DutchNews)

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‘Amsterdam’s new metro can be pulled through to Schiphol airport’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam officials and Schiphol airport have reached agreement on tackling the airport’s public transport problems, including the option of extending the city’s new metro route to the main terminal building. 

Schiphol chief executive Dick Benschop told Parool reporters on Monday evening that the first proposals are now with central government. ‘The question is no longer if the metro should be extended but when,’ Benschop said. 

Amsterdam’s transport alderman Sharon Dijksma has confirmed that the city is in talks about ‘improving the connection between the south west of the city and Schiphol, including extending the metro,’ the paper said. 

The city’s new metro line, which is just 10 kilometres long, opened this summer but critics say officials wasted an opportunity to make a link to the airport, which is becoming increasingly difficult to reach by car, as well as commuter towns to the north. 

Surroundings 

Benschop also told his audience at Schiphol’s New Year reception on Monday evening that the airport needed to build ‘a new relationship with its surroundings’ and that Schiphol employees’ remuneration will, from now on, also depend on Schiphol’s reputation among local residents. 

‘The conversation with directors and residents is under way,’ Benschop said. ‘Yet it is clear that we have a lot more to do to regain confidence and restore the balance. For many it is: ‘we’ll have to see it to believe it’.” 

Noise 

Noise complaints reached a record level last year. In total 11,500 complaints were made to the airport noise hotline, three times the number in 2017. Schiphol is now nearing the limits of its potential expansion, with 499,446 take-offs and landings last year. 

The airport faces a ceiling of 500,000 aircraft movements up to 2020. The airport processed 71 million passengers last year, a rise of 3.7% on 2017 but freight volumes were down 3%. Schiphol currently serves 326 destinations.
(DutchNews)

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Public prosecutor looks into corruption claim over railway land deal

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The public prosecutor’s office is looking into a possible case of corruption involving the sale of railway land to a property developer, the AD reports. 

The case centres on one of two controversial deals struck by Dutch railway company NS in 2010 and 2014, the paper said. The strips of land were sold by Dutch rail to property developers Railside and Bakkhe Vastgoed for almost nothing after track operator ProRail turned the deals down. 

However, ProRail was later forced to buy the land for millions of euros because it was needed for widening the tracks and building bridges. The current investigation focuses on the sale of land to Bakkhe Vastgoed, which, the paper says, may have profited from inside information from a former shareholder in Railside. 

Railside bought the first package of land in 2010. The NS has already conducted an internal investigation into insider dealing but found no basis for it, a spokesperson told the AD. 

Meanwhile parliament wants more information about how millions of euros of public money were wasted on railway land in what current ProRail boss Pier Eringa called ‘a shambles’, the paper writes.(DutchNews)

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Man in hospital after setting himself on fire at Turkish consulate

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A man has been taken to hospital after setting himself on fire at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. 

An air ambulance transported the man from the consulate at Westblaak following the incident at 9am on Monday. 

The victim was reported to be conscious. Police told RTL Nieuws that the incident appeared to be a suicide attempt and no further details would be issued.(DutchNews)

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Prosecutors to decide if Nashville anti-gay charter breaches Dutch law

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The prosecution service is examining whether the Nashville Statement on marriage and sexuality breaches the law after a recent Dutch translation was condemned by equality organisations. 

The document, signed by around 250 hardline Protestant ministers, states that marriage is the ‘covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman’ and that ‘it is sinful to approve of homosexual impurity or transgenderism.’ A spokesman for the public prosecution service said it was examining the statement to see if there was any basis for a criminal investigation. 

The service gave no indication how long the study might take. Article 1 of the Dutch constitution states that ‘discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever shall not be permitted.’ 

One of the signatories to the Nashville Statement is MP Kees van der Staaij, leader of the testimonial party SGP which has two seats in parliament and draws most of its support from the Dutch bible belt. 

On Monday he said he supported ‘Biblical notions of marriage, family and sexuality’, but refused to elaborate further. Opera singer Francis van Broekhuizen has filed a formal police complaint against Van der Staaij, the first step towards prosecution. 

Van Broekhuizen, who is a Pride Ambassador, told NPO Radio 4: ‘The whole pamphlet is a call to renew discrimination against LHBTI people. I feel really hurt and very sad.’ 

Emancipation minister Ingrid van Engelshoven described the emergence of a Dutch version of the Nashville Statement as a ‘step back in time’ and evidence that ’emancipation is still a long way off.’ 

‘Dangerous’ 

Around 200,000 people in the US have signed the English version of the statement since it went live in 2017. Dutch gay and transgender rights campaign group COC has said the statement is putting ‘LHBTIs back in the closet’. 

‘This statement gives the impression that gay feelings can be changed but dozens of research projects have shown that homosexuality cannot be changed with treatment and therapies, and that such treatments are downright dangerous,’ the organisation said. 

Last year, research by the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP said members of the Protestant churches are among the least likely in society to accept homosexuality, with 16% saying they are negative about the LHBT community. 

The SGP believes the Netherlands should be governed ‘entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures’. The party won 2.1% of the vote in the 2017 general election.(DutchNews)

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Dutch transport services are most expensive in the EU

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands has the most expensive transport services in Europe, according to European statistics agency Eurostat in a new analysis of the price of plane, train, tram and bus tickets, plus taxi charges. 

Transport in the Netherlands is 35% more expensive than the European average, putting it top of the ranking, above Denmark and the UK, broadcaster RTL said. 

The figures were released in mid-December and relate to 2017. Delft University transport policy professor Bert van Wee told RTL that the price differences are largely due to the extent to which public transport is subsidized. 

‘In Belgium, they want to stimulate the use of public transport by, for example, ensuring everyone has a bus stop within a couple of hundred metres,’ he said. ‘But that costs a lot of money.’ 

RTL also calculates that train season tickets are considerably cheaper in Belgium – €174 for a month’s travel between Antwerp and Ghent, compared with €371 for an Amsterdam The Hague ticket, which is a similar distance. The cheapest EU transport services are in Bulgaria.(DutchNews)

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Wages rose an average 2.1% last year, highest increase since 2009

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Pay deals agreed in sector-wide talks were up by an average of 2.1% last year, the highest increase since 2009, the national statistics agency CBS said on Thursday. 

That year the effect of the economic crisis still had to be fully felt and wages rose 2.8%. In 2017, wages rose 1.8%, the highest rise in six years. Unions, economists, prime minister Mark Rutte and the central bank chief have all called for wages to go up because of the improved economic conditions. 

Workers are also set to keep more of their income this year because of income tax cuts this year. In September, the biggest Dutch trade union federation FNV said it is targeting a pay rise of 5% in the coming round of pay and conditions talks, its biggest demand in 30 years.(DutchNews)

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Wealthy Groningen village wins postcode lottery big prize

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – This year’s Postcode lottery main prize has been won by the Groningen commuter village of Glimmen, which has around 1,100 inhabitants. 

The size of the prize per player will be made known at a special ceremony on Friday but five households on the Rijksstraatweg with the winning postcode of 9756 AK will share the main prize of €26.9m. 

The winning street is a wealthy area with big houses and Glimmen, just 10 kilometres south of Groningen city, is a well-off village. ‘But there enough people with average incomes who can use the money,’ Henk Niemeijer of local news website Glimmen.net told broadcaster NOS. 

The other main New Year lottery – the Staatsloterij – with a main prize of €30m was won by a ticket bought in Enschede.(DutchNews)

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Fewer attacks on emergency service workers as NL celebrates 2019

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The emergency services were called out 3,150 times during Monday night’s New Year celebrations, a rise of almost 50% on 2017. And although police, fire men and ambulance workers report a busier evening than in 2017, initial reports indicate they were less likely to have been the target of violence than in previous years.

In Limburg there were fewer incidents and arrests than last year, with just 19 people being picked up by police, website Nu.nl reported. Three men, aged 23, 24 and 25 were arrested in the village of Heel following a stabbing incident. 

There were no reports of attacks on emergency service workers. 

Rotterdam 

In the Rotterdam police district 55 people were arrested, several for throwing fireworks at the police. One police officer may have permanent hearing damage after being hit by a firework when he tried to put out a fire. Nu.nl said. 

Seven people, including three women aged 15, 32 and 59, were arrested following a shooting incident in Rotterdam in which two people were taken to hospital and one later died of his injuries. He is thought to be local rapper Feis, aged 32, who has worked with Ali B and Bouf.In nearby Vlaardingen, 15 families were evacuated from their homes following a fire on the roof of a block of flats. 

Utrecht 

In Utrecht, the fire brigade was called out 370 times, almost double the 2017 total. Firemen were attacked by bystanders in Houten and IJsseltein as they attempted to put out fires. 

Amsterdam 

In the Dutch capital, police said there were slightly more incidents than in 2017 but fewer arrests – just 34. In seven cases, police reported being attacked by groups of youths. The fire brigade was called out to deal with just under 300 incidents, almost double the 2017 total. Some 25 cars were set on fire and there are no reports of any aggression directed at emergency service workers.

Twente 

In Twente, fire engines were called out 107 times, mostly to deal with fires in rubbish containers, but there were major fires in Almelo and Niverdaal. In Enschede, two sheds burned down. 

The Hague 

Police officers were also attacked with fireworks in The Hague and 19 people were arrested after a group of youngsters were caught destroying security cameras. All have since been released. Police also arrested a 41-year-old German national in The Hague for firing a gas pistol into the air. 

Leiden 

In Leiden, four children and one adult were injured when fireworks exploded, breaking windows in two nearby homes. Police found ‘a couple of hundred kilos’ of illegal fireworks stored in a garage. A 36-year-old man was arrested in connection with the haul. 

Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe 

Thirty people were arrested in the three northern provinces and riot police were called out to restore order in the Drenthe village of Geesbrug, where a group of around 40 youths had gone on the rampage and blocked the road with concrete flower tubs.(DutchNews)

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German funerary urns wash up on Dutch beaches

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – At least three German crematorium urns have washed up on a Dutch beach, RTL Nieuws reported on Monday. The third urn was found by a woman walking along the beach at Katwijk on Sunday. 

The others were found at Katwijk and nearby Noordwijk earlier in the weekend.  All are thought to contain the ashes of someone who died this year and their names are engraved in the aluminum lids. 

According to website KustNieuws, the three urns come from the Greifswald crematorium in Vorpommern in northeastern Germany, some 800 kilometers away.

At least three German crematorium urns have washed up on a Dutch beach, RTL Nieuws reported on Monday. The third urn was found by a woman walking along the beach at Katwijk on Sunday. 

The others were found at Katwijk and nearby Noordwijk earlier in the weekend.  All are thought to contain the ashes of someone who died this year and their names are engraved in the aluminum lids. 

According to website KustNieuws, the three urns come from the Greifswald crematorium in Vorpommern in northeastern Germany, some 800 kilometers away.(DutchNews)

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