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Police chief: Amsterdam is EU crime capital

Published on September 23, 2004

23 September 2004

AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam is the crime capital of the European Union, the city’s police chief has claimed.

Commissioner Joop van Riessen said criminals were attracted to Amsterdam thanks to its prominent economic role in Europe and the rest of the world. He made the claim in an interview with Dutch daily newspaper Trouw.

He described Amsterdam as the “number one drug city” in the EU. But he added his officers could intercept more drugs if the authorities in the countries from where the shipments originated acted more decisively.

Van Riessen also said the spate of unsolved gangland murders in Amsterdam in recent years was a symptom of the city’s position as a crime capital.

Earlier this week, Moroccan-Dutch boxing champion Nordin ben Salah was gunned down in the city and detectives are trying to establish if his death was a criminal “hit”.

Multi-millionaire property tycoon Willem Endstra — who denied claims he was the “banker to the (Dutch) underworld” — was assassinated in Amsterdam in May.

Two weeks later, drug dealer Gijs van Dam Jr. — who used a wheelchair as a result of an earlier attempt on his life in Amsterdam — was murdered.

A Bulgarian gangster victim Konstantin Dimitrov, 33, was shot in the head in front of dozens of shoppers on the Dam in central Amsterdam last December. Unusually, his killer was caught as he tried to flee and he was jailed for 15 years in June.

But most high-profile slayings — including the shooting of Freddie Heineken kidnapper Cor van Hout in January 2003 — remain unsolved.

The police commissioner told Trouw he was not unduly worried by the lack of arrests in these cases. He said detective work was often a question of patience.

Van Riessen said despite the crime situation, the “liveability” climate in Amsterdam was more favourable than in other large European cities.

“(Amsterdam) is a village compared with Paris and London. We for instance don’t have any districts which you should avoid entering,” he said.

[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news