Justice Minister accused of ‘gambling with lives’
3 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner was accused Thursday of playing with people’s lives by refusing to ban unsupervised leave for criminals given temporary release from TBS secure psychiatric clinics.
During a debate on the recent kidnap of a schoolgirl by a TBS patient who went on the run while on provisional release, populist LPF MP Joost Eerdmans threatened to table a motion of no confidence against Donner if he did not change his mind.
Eerdmans accused the Christian Democrat CDA minister of gambling with human lives in a society which was currently crying out for security.
MPs from the other opposition parties and the Liberal VVD party — which is part of the coalition government with the CDA and Democrat D66 parties — voiced their concern about the “accumulation of mistakes” made by justice officials leading up to and during the kidnapping last month of Wei Wei Hu, 13.
Green-left GroenLinks MP Marijke Vos said Donner must come before Parliament with a “more satisfying answer” and the VVD’s Laetitia Griffith responded to the minister’s performance “with bewilderment”.
Experts have pointed out temporary release is an important tool to help prisoners and secure psychiatric patients re-adjust to society and that only a small minority fail to honour the terms of their release.
Nevertheless, many MPs want unsupervised leave to be abolished and some want temporary release to be denied completely to people sent to a secure hospital after committing very serious offences such as murder and sexual assault.
In relation to Wei Wei’s kidnapping, Donner told Parliament that police officers had wanted to use the suspect’s mobile phone to track him down after he failed to return to his TBS clinic, shortly before he abducted the schoolgirl.
But the law did not allow this because he was not suspected at that time of having committed any offence despite failing to return to the clinic.
Donner said he wanted to change the law to allow the police to trace people when they failed to return to TBS clinics.
But MPs were not happy and Eerdmans told Novum Nieuws that the kidnap case was a “terrible and horrendous story of blunders”.
He warned that more innocent people could fall victim to TBS patients if unsupervised leave is not banned.
[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news