Dutch news in brief, Friday 24 April 2009

24th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Cabinet crisis averted, JSF decision postponed

A cabinet crisis has been averted. The freesheet Metro prints a relaxed photograph of Labour Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos leaving parliament with a big smile on his face. The coalition has applied a tried and tested method on how to get out of a tight spot. The decision to replace the air force’s F-16s with Lockheed Martin JSF fighter planes has been postponed to 2012, i.e. the next government term.

Things were looking bleak earlier in the week with Deputy Defence Minister Jack de Vries and the Labour Party at an impasse. The coalition agreement, which had stated that a final decision on the acquisition of the JSF was to be taken next year and two aircraft would be bought, will now be revised. Next year only one plane will be purchased, but funding of the project will continue. A decision the deputy defence minister “can live with”.

The photo in de Volkskrant says it all with opposition leaders standing back, arms folded, looking expectantly at Labour faction leader Mariëtte Hamer. They jeered as she defended the compromise. Conservative VVD leader Marc Rutte called the decision “Monstrous”. Green Left leader Femke Halsema said “You’ve let yourself get talked into buying the JSF.”


Brave widow testifies in liquidation case

Maria Houtman, otherwise known as the black widow, could arguably be described as the bravest women in the Netherlands. On Wednesday she testified against the hitmen responsible for the liquidation of her husband Cees, who was shot on her doorstep and died in her arms. De Telegraaf reports that the severely traumatised widow is almost unique in her willingness to stand witness. She has reason to be scared; several of the people involved in the case, many of them witnesses, have died in suspicious circumstances. Although Willem Holleeder is not on trial in this case, she made a statement that he and two others had given the order for her husband to be killed. The statement corroborated the testimony of crown witness Peter la Serpe or “Dirty Peter”, who has admitted killing Cees Houtman. In the courtroom she was practically sitting next to him.

During the Holleeder trial she had wanted to remain an anonymous witness, but later dropped her anonymity. Trouw reports that there is little evidence against Holleeder but quotesHoutman: “Everyone knows who’s the boss. Everyone knows who is behind the liquidations. But they are keeping mum, otherwise we will all be pushing up daisies.”

Guilty or not guilty, that is the question

Ernest Louwes, who was released on Wednesday after sitting out a 12-year prison sentence for the murder of a rich widow Jacqueline Wittenberg, has held a press conference to announce he will take the case to clear his name to the Supreme Court. The Deventer murder case has become one of the most controversial of the decade says Trouw. Not least because well-known pollster Maurice de Hond took up the case and defended Louwes’ innocence to the extent that he himself has been prosecuted for slander after he repeatedly pointed the finger at the so-called “odd-job man”.

At the press conference Louwes said, “Don’t think it is over now that I have sat out my sentence. I am not a murderer and I do not want to enter history as one.”

An American DNA expert had been flown in to discredit the evidence put forward by the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Louwes has also pressed charges against two policemen who he says lied in the case. He is angry, very angry with the police investigation. Trouw reminds us how he was taken kicking and screaming from the courtroom after hearing the verdict. Experts on the case are divided on the question of his innocence. During the press conference Louwes presents the book he has just written to his “light in the darkness” Maurice de Hond, curiously the book is entitled 'Guilty'.


Whistleblower receives compensation

Whilstleblower Ad Bos has finally received compensation for revealing large-scale fraud in the building industry. The revelation that building companies kept double accounts and made price agreements for large contracts led to a criminal investigation, raids by the Dutch competition authority and a parliamentary inquiry, reports de Volkskrant.
The compensation comes from the government and not the building sector. Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst refuses to say how much money is involved, but she did say “It will enable Mr Bos and his family to look to the future with confidence.” He had demanded EUR 10.5 million.

Since the revelations Bos has been unemployed, and was eventually forced to live in a caravan. According to AD, the agreement signed by Mr Bos and the minister on Wednesday stated that his actions had been very important to society and he had paid a heavy price. The papers say that Bos was not available for comment yesterday. He was probably out spending some of that cash.

Carmaggedon in a street near you

While de Volkskrant tells us electricity companies have agreed to build a national network of 10,000 recharging points for electric cars, De Telegraaf has decided to run a story on flying cars.

The recharger network will bring an end to the chicken and the egg dilemma in which no-one wants to buy an electric car because there are not recharging points, and electricity companies don’t want to place recharging points because no-one has electric cars. Now all that needs to happen is for the price of electric cars to come down, so people might be able to afford one.

Meanwhile Traffic Minister Camiel Eurlings is investigating the possibility of solving traffic jams with flying automobiles. The futuristic Personal Air and Land Vehicle or Pal-V, which is a combination of a three-wheel car and a gyrocopter, will be test driven (or is it flown?) today. This could give a whole new meaning to queue jumping. And imagine the pile ups if there is a multiple collision! Pedestrians might be well advised to keep their heads down!

Radio Netherlands/ Nicola Chadwick/ Expatica

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