Machiel Kuijt back in the Netherlands

9th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

9 March 2007, AMSTERDAM – Machiel Kuijt, the Dutchman sentenced to life in prison in Thailand, has returned to the Netherlands. The ministries of justice and foreign affairs made this announcement today. Kuijt landed at Schiphol this morning and is no longer in official custody.

9 March 2007

AMSTERDAM – Machiel Kuijt, the Dutchman sentenced to life in prison in Thailand, has returned to the Netherlands. The ministries of justice and foreign affairs made this announcement today. Kuijt landed at Schiphol this morning and is no longer in official custody.

Kuijt was arrested in Thailand in April 1997 and sentenced to life in prison for drug-smuggling. He was brought to the Netherlands on the basis of a treaty between Thailand and the Netherlands which came into effect in 2005.

According to the treaty, people convicted to life in prison for a drug-related crime must serve eight years of their sentence in a Thai prison before they can be brought back to the Netherlands. Kuijt is the first person to invoke the so-called WOTS treaty. Another 12 Dutch nationals are still being detained in Thailand but have not yet served eight years.

The treaty states that the sentence that has been imposed abroad is reassessed according to Dutch standards upon arrival at Schiphol. That meant Kuijt could be released immediately.

Dutch nationals who are being detained in foreign prisons for more serious crimes, like murder, can serve that last part of their sentence in the Netherlands, thanks to the WOTS treaty.

The treaty does not mean that Thai authorities are obliged to agree to a prisoner transfer. It is seen as a favour if they do.

Kuijt was in prison in Thailand for more than nine years. He was arrested along with an Italian friend of his in April 1997 on their way to the airport in Bangkok. No drugs were found in Kuijt's luggage, but there were drugs in his Thai ex-girlfriend's luggage. In the end he was found guilty of involvement in heroin trade.

The Thai court initially acquitted him for lack of evidence but the appeal court convicted him and sentenced him to life in prison. The sentence was upheld in further appeal.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen said from Brussels that he was pleased that Machiel Kuijt was finally able to return to the Netherlands. "That is a positive development after all the efforts on both the Dutch and Thai side," the minister said earlier today.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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