Police hit squad to target animal rights activists
Extreme animal rights activists will be targeted by a specialist team of policemen, intelligence agents and the ministery of Justice.
Dutch Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst has decided this new approach against violence by activists is needed because "they are going too far", she told de Telegraaf daily on Sunday.
The minister was referring to increasingly violent actions "against directors of companies that cannot find favour in the eyes of animal rights activists."
The announcement almost coincided with an attack on the property of a senior official of the NYSE Euronext stock exchange. Two cars on the drive of his home in Wassenaar went up in flames. Euronext trades in stocks of British animal testing labs, Huntingdon Life Sciences. Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed yet, but an earlier attack in Hilversum last month was claimed by British animal rights activists.
The new counter-activism team was set up after the public prosecutor's office raised the alarm. Efforts to infiltrate the activists' movement had failed because of the secluded nature of the groups, the prosecutor said, rendering it impossible to fight them. The new police team will target radical animal rights groups and is tasked with preventing new attacks.
In April, the southern city of Venray scrapped ambitious plans for 'Sciencelink', a high-tech campus focusing on biotechnological research and industry, after a series of attacks on the homes of investors and other individuals connected with the project.
The attacks included the painting of slogans on walls of private property and the delivery of a mourning wreath. Animal rights activists said that, once in operation, Sciencelink would rely heavily on the use of lab animals.