Ministers face criminal complaint over fire

2nd December 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 December 2005, AMSTERDAM — An asylum seekers group has asked the prosecution service to launch a criminal investigation into Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk in relation to the fire at the detention centre in Schiphol.

2 December 2005

AMSTERDAM — An asylum seekers group has asked the prosecution service to launch a criminal investigation into Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk in relation to the fire at the detention centre in Schiphol.

The foundation 'Een Royaal Gebaar' (A Royal Gesture) said on Friday that the fire at the end of October, which killed 11 deportees, was no mere chance but a logical consequence of the policies persuaded by the ministers.

It has asked the public prosecutor in Haarlem to launch an investigation into the ministers for alleged negligence leading to death, inflicting serious bodily injury and subjecting people to cruel and inhumane treatment.

Writer Marion Bloem is the driving force behind the foundation, which was originally set up to campaign for pardons for rejected asylum seekers to coincide with Queen Beatrix's 25th jubilee.

The foundation said it is taking the action against the ministers on behalf of the survivors of the fire, the relatives of those who died and 8,000 Dutch people who have signed a petition on its website. Former minister Jan Pronk, cabaret star Freek de Jonge and writer Geert Mak are among the celebrities who have signed the petition.

Donner and Verdonk, the foundation said, are not only politically responsible for the deaths. They also refused to sanction the necessary improvements to the complex despite two requests to do so, 'Een Royaal Gebaar' claimed.

Separately on Friday, Haarlemmermeer Municipality - which is responsible for the Schiphol area - said the detention centre must close by Tuesday or Wednesday next week at the latest.

Inmates are still be detained in the wings of the complex unaffected by the fire and Donner wants the centre to stay open at least until the results of the investigation into the fire are made known. But Haarlemmermeer announced on Thursday that it had lost confidence in the minister's assertions that safety would be improved.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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