Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz has apologized to the relatives of three people who were murdered possibly due to their connection to Nabil B., the Public Prosecution Service’s key witness in a sprawling criminal case. Those killed include journalist Peter R. de Vries, who was assisting B., as well as B.’s attorney, Derk Wiersum, and his brother, Reduan B.
The minister delivered the apology because of the mistakes made regarding security for the three men, who all had a role in the case known as the Marengo proceedings, which are focused on a series of assassinations, failed killings, and murder-for-hire plots. The main suspect in this criminal case is alleged organized crime boss Ridouan Taghi, who has been accused of being behind the murders.
Yeşilgöz wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer that she thinks it is important that “it is recognized that mistakes have been made by the government in security situations. I deeply regret that these mistakes were made.” She also wrote that she thinks it is important “that reparation is made for the next of kin by prosecuting the perpetrators and clarifying the period leading up to the murders.” At the same time, she said she is “very well aware that the indescribable suffering inflicted on the bereaved by ruthless criminals cannot be taken away.”
The errors surfaced in a report by the Dutch Safety Board (OVV) that was presented at the beginning of March. It stated that the police and other services involved did not share information properly in the run-up to the murders. Insufficient attention was also paid to the concerns of the persons who needed protection, and those around them. The content of the report cuts deep, said the minister. Yeşilgöz was a VVD MP at the time of two of the murders, and was State Secretary for Economic Affairs when De Vries was killed. CDA politician Ferd Grapperhaus was the minister for Mark Rutte’s third Cabinet and the caretaker Cabinet, when all three slayings took place.
The current Cabinet endorsed the analysis and conclusions of the OVV, and is adopting all recommendations, wrote Yesilgöz on Friday. The measures the Cabinet already had in mind to improve the surveillance and security system are not enough to respond to the increasing threats from organized criminal gangs, terrorists and foreign regimes with evil intentions. The minister is working on a new package of measures that will fundamentally revise the system, she said, also because the number of people who have to be protected daily has increased to dozens and is still growing.
For example, there will be unequivocal authority when it comes to monitoring and security, which will lie with the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV). At present, the direction and responsibility still lies with the local authority, so that the approach and practice differs across the country. Moreover, interests can clash, especially when it comes to key witnesses.
“With them we have to see what they need, what we can offer them and how that fits into their lives,” Yeşilgöz said after the Cabinet meeting. From now on, safety comes first when agreements are made with key witnesses, for themselves, for their loved ones and for officials. The minister also wants to set up a new independent advisory body to monitor the quality and operation of the new system.
Yesilgöz would rather have “designed the system differently” if it became clear years ago that there are such serious threats that so many people need to be protected. “A few years ago there was only one person in the system. Until a few years ago we had never heard that a journalist needed to be protected against serious criminals. And unfortunately that has developed very quickly in our country.”
Reporting by ANP
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