Expatica news

Dutch news in brief – 4 June 2004

Jorritsma in the clear in build fraud case

The public prosecutor’s office (OM) announced Friday it does not see any reason to launch a criminal investigation into former deputy prime minister Annemarie Jorritsma. The former economics affairs minister’s name recently appeared on documents purporting to list illegal pay offs made as part of massive construction industry fraud in the Netherlands in the past few years. Jorritsma’s family operates a building sub-contractors firm, but she did not have any official involvement in it while serving as a government minister. The Labour PvdA party and the green-left GroenLinks are pressing for Jorritsma to be investigated. But the OM does not agree. It has not questioned the former minister, now the Almere Mayor, as to why a set of shadow bookkeeping accounts contains an entry about her family firm having “settled” with another building company to the tune of NLG 72,000.

EU constitution ‘a 50:50 chance’

Speaking during a visit to Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende in The Hague on Thursday, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said there was a 50:50 chance of European Union leaders agreeing on the bloc’s first ever constitution at their 17-18 June summit in Brussels. “Until we have all the issues together and get an agreement on it I think 50:50 is the position,” French news agency AFP quoted Ahern saying. Ireland currently holds the presidency of the 25-nation EU until the end of June and Ahern was meeting with Balkenende to prepare for the summit. The Netherlands takes over the rotating six-month EU presidency on 1 July and will be responsible for chairing further negotiations on the constitution if a deal is not reached in Brussels. The constitution is designed to streamline decision-making within the EU following its expansion on 1 May to 25 from 15 members.

Homeowners might lose tax breaks

Former Christian Democrat CDA MP Hans Hillen has come out in favour of abolishing tax breaks for homeowners. In an interview with newspaper Trouw, Hillen said the tax breaks should be scrapped because mortgage interest deductions are used mainly to increase consumption. As the chairman of an independent body advising the government on health insurance issues, Hillen is keen to turn the clock back to the time when home ownership was a provision for old age, enabling people to pay for their own care once their mortgage was fully paid, Radio Netherlands reported.

Youths arrested over Deventer arson attacks

Police have arrested three male youths on suspicion of a series of arson attacks in the central Dutch city of Deventer. About a hundred fires have been reported in Deventer this year and police arrested three suspects — aged 14, 17 and 23 — last week, it was reported Friday. The 17-year-old has been released from remand custody, but the other two suspects are still being detained. The suspects have allegedly confessed to several arson attacks and investigations continue. Further arrests have not been ruled out.

Dutch astronaut becomes nature ambassador

Dutchman Andre Kuipers — who took part in a Russian-led mission to the International Space Station (ISS) earlier this year — has been appointed an ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Kuipers said from space one can really see how potentially vulnerable the Earth is.

Dutch women appeal against heroin convictions

The two Dutch women sentenced to six years jail on heroin smuggling charges by the Izmir Court in Turkey last month have appealed. Two male suspects were also sentenced to six years jail by the court, news agency nu.nl reported.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news