Expatica news

Dutch news in brief, 8 September 2004

James Hardie faces shareholder showdown

Australian asbestos victims and union chiefs will demand in the Netherlands later this month that shareholders condemn the annual accounts of controversial building company James Hardie. The company hit the headlines when it relocated its headquarters to Amsterdam in 2001, claiming the move was fiscally advantageous. But unions and victims claim the move was designed to escape looming compensation claims. Prior to the relocation, James Hardie set up a foundation in February 2001 with AUD 293 million to take over its future asbestos liabilities, but this left a shortfall of AUD 1 billion. The Netherlands does not have a treaty with Australia allowing victims to seek compensation in that nation’s courts. But Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said last week the Australian government had informed its Dutch counterpart that it wants to resume negotiations for a bilateral treaty. Australian victims have since bought shares in the James Hardie company and will demand at a meeting in the Netherlands on 17 September that shareholders reject the company’s accounts because it has not reserved enough money for compensation claims.

Dutch deploy F-16s to Afghanistan

Some 185 Dutch troops, six F-16 fighter jets and a KDC-10 tanker plane were departing for Afghanistan on Wednesday and Thursday. The deployment is expected to be operational at its base in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan by 15 September, Radio Netherlands reported. An additional 80 soldiers will be deployed to the region at a later date. The Dutch deployment will form part of the ISAF stabilisation force and will help secure Afghanistan’s elections planned for later this year. The contingent’s eight-week mission can be extended should a second round of elections become necessary.

Fortuyn party withdraws mosque restrictions

The Pim Fortuyn-party Liveable Rotterdam withdrew on Tuesday a proposal to impose restrictions on the building of new mosques. Rotterdam Council said the party’s alderman, Marco Pastors, had operated too unilaterally, forcing him to withdraw the proposal. The memorandum, lodged in June, stated that future mosques should no longer be allowed to have 35m high minarets and said they must fit in with the neighbourhood architecturally. The alderman was opposed to the construction of more “orthodox Arabian” buildings, news service NIS reported. The issue was sparked after the council failed last year ensure to force a more modern appearance on the construction of the Essalam Mosque, the biggest mosque in Europe.

Two-month suspended jail term for sleeping marines

The Arnhem Appeals Court imposed a two-month suspended military detention sentence and a 60-hour community work order on two marines who fell asleep on guard duty in Iraq last year. The court was particularly critical that the two marines — the 20-year-old M. F. and the 20-year-old J. B. — placed their colleagues at threat and so sharpened the two-week suspended detention sentence and 60-hour work order imposed on them by the trial court. The public prosecution had appealed the trial court’s ruling. The marines claimed in their defence that conditions were too tough in Iraq and they were physically exhausted. Both of them are now considering civilian jobs.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news