Cabinet bashes 'unfair' Schiphol fire report

6th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 September 2006, AMSTERDAM — Ministers have hit back at the highly critical report into the fatal fire in the detention centre at Schiphol Airport last October.

6 September 2006

AMSTERDAM — Ministers have hit back at the highly critical report into the fatal fire in the detention centre at Schiphol Airport last October.

Newspaper 'NRC Handelsblad' obtained a copy of a letter the Cabinet sent to the Dutch Safety Council, which is chaired by Pieter Van Vollenhoven.

The Government accused Van Vollenhoven's team of being unfair and of exceeding its mandate on several points. The letter, dated 11 August, has surfaced days after news programme NOVA obtained parts of the draft report.

It accuses central and local government officials of making a series of mistakes in relation to the building and running of the detention centre prior to the fire. "There would have been fewer casualties if the construction process had been satisfactory," according to the Safety Board.

Eleven detainees died and dozens were injured when a small fire in one of the cells spread to the rest of the wing.

The draft version has been circulating within government circles for several weeks to allow for 'counter argument' and 'verification' of the facts.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner - whose own department i severely criticised - set out the government's response in the letter.

Donner attacked Van Vollenhoven's mode of operation and accused him of exceeding his mandate by pointing the finger of blame. Van Vollenhoven should have restricted himself, the minister said, to investigating how the accident happened with a view to preventing a similar tragedy in future.

The final version of the report is due to be published at the end of this month. Van Vollenhoven is married to Queen Beatrix's sister, Princess Margriet.

[Copyright Expatica News and ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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