Bill for car fires reaches €40m as arsonists strike more often

a car on fire

The number of car fires in the Netherlands has reached a five-year high, with over 2,808 cars set ablaze in the nine months to the end of September, according to new figures from national insurance association Verbond van Verzekeraars.

More cars are set on fire in Noord-Brabant and Zuid-Holland than other parts of the country – there have been 506 fires in Noord-Brabant and 463 in Zuid-Holland so far this year. In Zeeland, by contrast, there have been just 58.

The figures only include cars with all-risk insurance and would be far higher if all cars destroyed by fire are included, the VvV said.

Only a tiny fraction of fires are due to electric failures and most are started deliberately.

The insurers say the average damage to a car is €10,000, taking the total damages bill for a year to some €40m.

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Rotterdam man faces eight years in jail for planning terrorist attack

Photo: Depositphotos.com

A 31-year-old man from Rotterdam should be jailed for eight years for preparing to carry out a terrorist attack in the Netherlands, the public prosecution department said on Thursday.

Jaouad A was arrested last December following a tip-off from the security services. At his home in the port city police found an automatic weapon, ammunition and a large number of illegal fireworks containing almost nine kilos of explosives. On his computer they found instructions for making a bomb using gunpowder and 289 IS videos, including executions.

In evidence, the department said the AIVD security service had recorded A talking to other men about an attack on the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, which is close to his home, the Telegraaf reported.

‘Near me you’ve got the Turkish embassy [consulate, ed]. It’s a 500 metre walk. You walk in and you shoot or you throw something. That is something I can do,’ A is quoted as saying.

A told the high-security court in Rotterdam the conversation was much longer than the eight minute transcript provided in court and that the shortened version was out of context.

The court will announce its verdict in two weeks.

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30 month jail term for violence against gay couple

Photo: Despositphotos.com

A 24-year old man has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for abusing two gay men last October, reports RTL Nieuws on Thursday.

One victim suffered severe head injuries after being set upon by three men while returning home from a party in Amsterdam North on Saturday, October 16th.

The couple’s scooter collided with those ridden by the three men, they fell off and were kicked and beaten, even when unconscious on the ground.

The judge said that it could not be shown that the suspect in court, Mamadou D., had chosen to attack the men for their sexual orientation and the victims had said they did not think this was the case.

But D. was found to have assaulted the two men, one of whom suffered from a fractured skull and brain haemorrhage and the other long-lasting psychological effects.

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Muslim police trainee asks for right to wear headscarf in uniform

Helmets and headscarves?    Photo: Graham Dockery

A police cadet from Rotterdam has gone to the Dutch human rights commission to ask for the right to wear a headscarf with her police uniform.

The woman, a new recruit who has not been named, believes she is suffering from religious discrimination in being forbidden from wearing the Muslim head covering.

She is asking for a ruling on her case, but also in the interest of others, according to a police press release on Wednesday.

Police lawyers are arguing that she can wear a headscarf in the office, but when in contact with the public, she must ‘comply with uniform rules’ and – the body argues – the uniform is ‘neutral’.

‘The police code of conduct is clear, the [woman’s] employer believes,’ says the release. ‘Visible expressions of beliefs and opinions are not permitted.’

Diversity

But the woman’s lawyer claimed that the police are selective in applying this ruling, allowing wedding rings – for instance – which are arguably an indication of lifestyle and belief.

According to NU.nl, the woman in question also believes that allowing headscarves with police uniform will encourage more diversity in the police – something acknowledged by the head of the service as an aim, after evidence of ethnic profiling.

In May, Amsterdam police considered making a headscarf an option with police uniform to attract more people from ethnic minorities. But police chief Erik Akerboom opposed this.

In addition, an Amsterdam police woman who went on patrol wearing a headscarf under her cap later that month was heavily criticised for her action.

A verdict from the human rights commission is expected on 14th November.

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Some 6,000 people a year in the Netherlands are victims of trafficking

Red light district in Amsterdam.Hundreds of victims end up in prostitution. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Over 6,000 people in the Netherlands are the victims of human trafficking every year, two-thirds of whom are coerced into the sex trade, according to a new report from the national reporter on trafficking in human beings and sexual violence.

Dutch girls form the biggest group of victims – some 1,320 every year – but because they are more likely to be hidden victims, they don’t get the protection they need, the report states.

It is the first time the Dutch organisation has published an estimate for the number of trafficking victims. The research was carried out together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Some 46% of cases involve coercion within the sex trade in the Netherlands itself and a further 21% stem from cross-border trafficking for the sex industry – mainly prostitution. Other areas of exploitation include forced labour and forced criminal activity.

One in six victims is male, of whom over 50% have been brought to the Netherlands and forced to work or to join criminal gangs, the report shows.

Estimates

The estimated total is over six times that of the actual number of reports, whose total fell 17% last year to 952.

‘I am extremely concerned about the drop in reports,’ said national reporter Corinne Dettmeijer. ‘Human trafficking is not in decline. We now know that the number of victims is around 6,250 a year and this means an increasing number of cases are under the radar.’

‘This should lead the police to make extra capacity free to combat human trafficking,’ she said.

Convictions

The number of people in the Netherlands found guilty of human trafficking went down 25% in 2016 to just 103, the NRC said earlier this year.

The maximum penalty for human trafficking was increased to 12 years in 2012 but that the average sentence was 585 days. Just five suspects last year were jailed for more than 1,500 days and almost a quarter of suspects are eventually found not guilty, the paper said.

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Hundreds of foreign criminals opt for early release in exchange for deportation

Hundreds of foreign criminals avoid sitting out their full jail sentence by opting to return to their country of origin instead, the AD reported on Wednesday.

The early release ruling, which dates from 2012, gives foreign criminals their freedom after completing at least half of their sentence on condition they leave the country.

The ruling hit the headlines earlier this year when a Polish driver who killed a two-year old girl and her grandparents made use of the deal.

The sentence, 15 months, caused outrage, especially when the man was freed after nine months to see his pregnant girlfriend in Poland. Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff (VVD) promised to review the ruling to take in the interests of the victims and their families but said a review will not be on the cards before January 2018.

According to justice ministry figures, some 800 criminal foreigners were released early in 2015 and 2016. So far the figure for this year is over 200. The ruling includes crimes which carry sentences of more than three years, the paper says, but the ministry has no information about the specific crimes committed.

Albanian, Surinamese and Polish nationals are among the foreign criminals who most often return to their native countries under the ruling. Criminals who later return to the Netherlands go back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

The AD found that almost half of criminals opt for the ruling themselves which, the paper says, invalidates the ministry of justice’s boast that it is often successful deporting foreign criminals.

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Mother arrested for death of daughter, who fell from balcony in 2015

A gavel in a courtroom.Photo: Depositphotos

The mother of an eight-year-old girl who died after falling from a 10th floor balcony in 2015 has been arrested on suspicion of murder, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday.

Sharleyne Remouchamps fell from the balcony at the apartment in Heerenveen where her mother lived on the night of June 7.

The mother, now aged 37, was arrested at the time because she was behaving suspiciously but after three days the public prosecution department said it was impossible to prove if the girl fell, jumped or was thrown to the ground.

‘New evidence’ however, shows that the mother was responsible for the girl’s death, the public prosecutor said, without giving further details. The new facts were turned up in a second, court ordered investigation after the girl’s father took legal action to force a new probe.

Sharleyne’s parents separated in 2011 and her mother was under social service supervision because of her drink problem, as well as allegations of neglect and domestic violence.

Social work inspectors said after the girl’s death that too much attention had been focused on the parents and not enough on the needs of the child.

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Clinic in Anne Faber case steps up security after ‘stalking’ incident

 

The psychiatric clinic that housed the man accused of killing 25-year-old student Anne Faber has stepped up security on campus after a woman was pursued by a man on its grounds last week.

The Altrecht Aventurijn clinic in Den Dolder, near Utrecht, said it was investigating the incident last Thursday to see if one of its patients was involved. The Telegraaf reported that it happened in the same area where Michael P., the suspect in the Anne Faber case, was being treated until his arrest last week.

The woman was unharmed after a passer-by intervened, but the clinic said it would be providing 24-hour surveillance on the site from now on.

P. has been in custody since last week in connection with the death of Anne Faber, who disappeared on September 29 after setting off on a bike ride near Utrecht. Her body was found last Thursday on a nature reserve.

P. was serving an 11-year sentence for the rape of two underage girls in 2012 and a string of robberies. At the time the student went missing he was on unsupervised leave from the clinic as part of a resocialisation programme. Questions have been raised about the amount of freedom P. enjoyed as a patient at the Den Dolder clinic.

Justice minister Stef Blok has ordered an inquiry into the circumstances at the clinic. He has also said the current system of psychiatric assessment for convicted criminals should be reviewed. P. was given a prison sentence rather than a psychiatric treatment order because he refused to co-operate with the assessment procedure, a situation Blok described as ‘undesirable’.

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The father who went undercover to find his son’s killers – podcast

After police failed to solve his son’s murder, Francisco Holgado infiltrated the local criminal underworld in pursuit of those responsible. He became a national hero – but at what cost?

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Questions mount about Anne Faber suspect and the clinic which treats him

Police cordon at the Haaksbergen crash siteJustice minister Stef Blok has asked ministry inspectors to look into the psychiatric clinic where Michael P, the man suspected of murdering Anne Faber, was being treated.

‘There are so many questions about the background to this case – about the suspect and the situation at the clinic in Den Dolder where he lived,’ Blok said.

P was convicted of two violent rapes in 2012 but was able to live in relative freedom at the clinic which is situated not far from where Anne was cycling on the Friday she vanished. He was arrested earlier this week in connection with the disappearance of 25-year-old Anne, whose body was found in a nature reserve on Thursday afternoon.

One woman, a mother of three girls, has set up an online petition calling for an inquiry into the ‘failures of the legal system in the case of Michael P.’ By 10.45 am it had been signed over 120,000 times.

‘We are calling on those who are responsible – the ministry of justice – to make a statement,’ the petition states.

Re-socialisation

P was jailed for 11 years in 2012 for the brutal rape of two teenage girls and for a string of robberies. He was allowed out of the clinic as part of a re-socialisation programme, the Telegraaf said.

P had not been sent to a psychiatric prison for treatment because he had refused to cooperate with a psychiatric assessment prior to his trial. Legislation making it possible to sentence convicted criminals to tbs – or psychiatric prison – even if they have not been properly assessed, is currently pending in the upper house of parliament.

According to the Telegraaf, police are now investigating a number of incidents which P may also have been involved with.

In one, which took place the weekend before Anne disappeared, a young woman was knocked off her bike and attacked by a man, who ran off when a car drove up. That incident took place in Nijkerk, the village where P attacked the two teenage girls in 2010, the Telegraaf said.

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