Dutch police ‘invade’ Vinkenslag trailer park
15 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — A massive force of riot police carried out a dawn raid on the Vinkenslag trailer park in Maastricht on Thursday morning in a bid to arrest residents who blocked the A2 motorway the previous day.
Some 350 to 400 officers arrived in 40 police vehicles at 6.30am and sealed the camp from the outside world. Police officers also took up guard duty at the A2 junction blocked on Wednesday.
Police spokesman John Clemons confirmed to news agency Novum that officers had entered the camp. He declined to go into more detail about the latest in a series of confrontations between the authorities and the Vinkenslag residents.
News agency ANP reported several arrests in Vinkenslag and in satellite camps and houses in the area. Police refused to say how many people have been detained.
The show of force by police comes a day after 80 to 100 people from the campsite caused serious disruption to traffic on Wednesday by blockading the A2 motorway nearby. Vinkenslag residents used garbage and car tyres to stop traffic getting past De Geusselt football stadium during the morning rush hour.
The residents were protesting against Maastricht Mayor Gerd Leers, who has authorised several previous raids on the campsite in the last few months to search for drugs and weapons.
Residents at the trailer park have in the past been accused of stealing electricity to power a cannabis cultivation operation. A previous police raid at Vinkenslag led to the discovery and destruction of dozens of cannabis plants.
The traffic information service VID estimates that Wednesday’s motorway blockade cost motorists and companies at least EUR 200,000 in lost revenues. Mayor Leer has called on people and businesses in Maastricht to join the City Council in legal action to recoup the losses from Vinkenslag.
Earlier this year it emerged Vinkenslag residents have paid only 3 percent income tax in recent years. The tax office, or Belastingdienst, had a secret policy of collecting no or minimal tax from individuals and groups considered to be troublemakers.
Tax Minister Joop Wijn said in March he was considering setting up a special tax squad – consisting of tax specialists, the police and municipal and utility officials – to tackle the problem.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news