Dutch defence minister fiercely criticised

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Defence Minister Hans Hillen has come in for fierce criticism in parliament over his failure to wait for advice from the military intelligence service MIVD before ordering the evacuation of two people from Libya on 27 February.

An independent oversight commission for the intelligence services has come to the conclusion that the MIVD did not immediately reply to a request for information submitted by the frigate HNLMS Tromp because the email went unnoticed as it was a Sunday and there were just a few people on duty at the MIVD headquarters.

When several hours later the MIVD finally reacted to the Tromp’s request for information the ministry of defence had already decided to launch the operation. The helicopter sent by the frigate was seized as soon as it landed near the city of Sirte and the crew were taken prisoners.

The two would-be evacuees, a Dutch man and another European of unspecified nationality, were handed over to the Dutch embassy and left the country. The three Dutch soldiers were released after 12 days and have since returned to the Netherlands.

The oversight commission presented its findings to Defence Minister Hans Hillen, who sent the report to parliament on Thursday. The Labour Party, the Socialist Party and the democrat party D66 say that the version of events as initially submitted to parliament by Defence Minister Hans Hillen and Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal on Monday was clearly inaccurate.

SP MP Harry van Bommel said that “Nothing about this latest version of events was reported to parliament so the information we received was incomplete. The minister is definitely in trouble.” D66 party leader Alexander Pechtold wants the defence minister to give a reaction to the commission’s findings still today.



© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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