Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

 

1921 painting "Odalisque" by Henri Matisse from Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

 

Posted on Nov 1 2013 – 11:00am by Randy Gener

In a shocking revelation, Dutch museums say that about 139 major works of art, including dozens of paintings by Henri Matisse, Paul Klee and Vassily Kandinsky, all presently hanging in their buildings may have been Nazi loot, all of it likely having been taken forcibly from Jewish owners.

 

The revelation is the result of a major in-house investigations of Dutch art acquisitions since 1933, a review that focused explicitly on pieces for which there was any gap in their ownership record during the years that Germany’s Nazi regime was appropriating works from Jews, either by forced sale or outright seizure.

 

Critics are wondering why it has taken the museums nearly 70 years to examine their collections in a systematic way after World War II.

 

“These objects are either thought or known to have been looted, confiscated or sold under duress,” said Siebe Weide, director of the Netherlands Museums Association. He said returning them is “both a moral obligation and one that we have taken upon ourselves.”

 

The tainted art involved 69 paintings, including French artist Henri Matisse’s 1921 “Odalisque” painting of a half-nude reclining woman, which hangs at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, one of the country’s top tourist draws.

 

All Dutch museums that hold art from before the war participated in the review. They have identified names of 20 definite looting victims and linked them with 61 of the works. The museums said they are in the process of contacting or seeking the heirs, including those of Jewish art dealer Albert Stern, the deceased owner of the Matisse.

 

The museum had purchased the Matisse painting from Lieuwe Bangma, Stern’s Dutch representative, in 1941. But Stern was its owner before the war and the Bangma family is known to have given aid to his granddaughters during the war.

 

The Dutch are not the first to undertake such a review in the wake of a 1998 international conference on looted art in Washington, D.C. that found previous attempts to return looted art didn’t go far enough. Attendees from 44 nations proclaimed the Washington Principles, declaring that “every effort should be made to publicize art that is found to have been confiscated by the Nazis” and have it returned.

 

Many American and British museums have already conducted thorough investigations that have led to the return of looted art, though nothing has been done on a nationwide basis. In Germany, a government-led, nationwide investigation is underway.

 

The main association of Dutch museums is also launching a website to help explain the existence of art of dubious provenance in their collections and assisting heirs in claims. Visit the website on the Internet here.

Click here for riginal article.

cannabis and scratch-and-sniff

A woman smells a card with a marijuna odour in Rotterdam.

AFP October 09, 2013 4:07AM

A DUTCH initiative to combat illegal cannabis cultivation through marijuana-scented “scratch-and-sniff” cards has gone nationwide in the country.

The expansion comes after a pilot project launched three years ago to combat illegal weed plantations by helping people to recognise the smell proved a success.

Backed by police, city councils and energy service providers who have their electricity stolen, thousands of cannabis-odoured cards will be distributed in four Dutch cities including Amstelveen near Amsterdam, a spokesman for the initiative said.

“The cards are being made available across the country, starting with the four cities this week,” Martijn Boelhouwer told AFP. “We hope other cities will follow.”

Mr Boelhouwer said since the cards were introduced in The Hague and Rotterdam, the number of reported plantations has “gone up enormously”, with one call to police a day in each city.

The proportion of people able to sniff out an illegal plantation increased from 40 to 60 per cent, Dutch daily Trouw reported.

The Netherlands is known for its expertise in hydroponic cultivation and the growing of illegal cannabis is no exception.

There are an estimated 30,000 illegal cannabis nurseries in the Netherlands, with plantations often set up in attics, cellars, garages and even entire houses.

Police estimate the bulk cultivation and sale of cannabis was worth some 2.2 billion euros ($3.17 billion) in 2012, most of it in the hands of criminal organisations.

“With this cannabis-scented card you will recognise the smell of marijuana cultivation. Scratch, sniff and help,” reads the text on the green scratch-card, which lists a police telephone number.

Illicit cannabis cultivation is dangerous because of the fire-risk created by illegal electricity connections and faulty wiring, Mr Boelhouwer said.

“At least 20 per cent of all industrial fires are caused by illegal marijuana cultivation,” added Danielle Nicolaas, spokeswoman for energy company Stedin, which forms part of the project.

Illegal power connections also tapped some 200 million euros in stolen electricity from service providers every year.

Though it remains technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalised the consumption and possession of under five grammes (0.18 ounces) of cannabis in 1976 under a “tolerance” policy.

Authorities turn a blind eye to citizens growing no more than five plants for personal use, though that too is illegal.

Last year police rolled up 5800 nurseries, according to the latest police statistics.

Click here to read the original article.

By TOBY STERLING — Associated Press

AMSTERDAM — The animal rights activist whose 2002 assassination of a populist anti-immigration politician plunged the Netherlands into turbulence is eligible for early parole and should be reintegrated into society, a criminal justice agency ruled Wednesday.

An official immediately announced the Justice Department might not enforce the agency’s ruling. Volkert van der Graaf was sentenced to 18 years for shooting Pim Fortuyn dead in what was arguably the first assassination in the country since 1672. As his potential release date approaches, the department has resisted letting him out of prison early, saying it could cause civil unrest and that it may be impossible to keep him safe from vigilantes.

The killing of Fortuyn, a professor and author whose party skyrocketed to popularity on an anti-immigration platform deeply shocked the Dutch. It ushered in a period of unstable governments as Fortuyn’s former supporters swung support to a variety of would-be successors, and a groundswell of sentiment against Muslim immigrants intensified.

Pim Fortuyn

At the time of his conviction, 20 years was the harshest practical sentence for a criminal who was not ruled criminally insane. In line with public sentiment, sentencing possibilities have increased and life sentences are now more common.

Under Dutch rules, prisoners are generally granted parole after serving two-thirds of their sentences. The Council for the Admission of Criminal Justice ruled that Van der Graaf’s rights had priority “over societal unrest and the risks that allowing furloughs may bring.”

Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven said that he might ignore the ruling.

“I have to consider it again and go look at the immediate circumstances,” he said.

Fortuyn’s brother Marten said in a statement on behalf of the family that “we presume Teeven will keep his word and see whether any provisional release can be prevented.”

Geert Wilders, the politician who eventually won over the bulk of Fortuyn’s former supporters — and who currently tops national popularity polls, well ahead of Prime Minister Mark Rutte — said that the criminal justice organization is “out of touch with reality.”

“The interest of the Netherlands is that (Van der Graaf) remain behind bars as long as possible,” he said.

At trial, Van der Graaf claimed he saw Fortuyn as a threat to the vulnerable, and compared Fortuyn’s rise in popularity to the rise of Hitler. Closely questioned by judges, Van der Graaf said he wasn’t sure whether what he did was wrong, but he said he would never do it again.

Van der Graaf was married and had a young daughter at the time of Fortuyn’s killing.

Click here for the original article.

Friday 12 April 2013

The number of reports of possible human trafficking incidents rose 40% last year to 1,711, according to the body charged with collating information about the crime in a new report.

The increase is largely due to police efforts – around one in four reports are now made by detectives, the Comensha organisation said.

In particular, the number of reports of women being trafficked for the sex industry were up 64% to 1,177.

One in four reports concerned a person with Dutch nationality.

© DutchNews.nl       Read the original article here.

By TOBY STERLING Associated Press

AMSTERDAM February 26, 2013 (AP)

[Shameless plug: After you read this article, come to Amsterdam and take a Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll Tour with Amsterdamsel Tours for an engaging walk through the Red Light District. Learn more about the politics, culture, and gossip behind the sex workers and coffee shops in this notorious neighbourhood from an entertaining local guide.]

Amsterdam plans to raise the minimum age for prostitutes from 18 to 21 and force brothels to close during early morning hours.

At a press conference Tuesday, mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the moves came from a decision to crack down on crime in the city’s famed Red Light District and protect sex workers — mostly women — from abuse.

Amsterdam is home to about 8,000 professional sex workers, the city estimates, half of them who operate behind windows with red velvet curtains and red lights. Van der Laan said under the new regime, all windows would be closed from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000. It has been tolerated in Amsterdam since the 1600s, when the spice trade made it one of the world’s wealthiest port cities. But the city has been tightening its rules since 2006 and shuttered a third of its brothel windows from 2007 to 2009.

Van der Laan said the city intends to introduce the new measures by July.

“We think the situation is so grave that we have to act,” he told reporters.

He said young prostitutes were particularly vulnerable because they were often groomed by pimps who force them into service when they turn 18. He said the city’s first priority was to keep women from being pushed into prostitution and its second was to help those who wish to exit the profession.

Other measures he plans to introduce include forcing all brothel owners to submit a business plan.

The Dutch tolerance of prostitution has always been a subject of debate, and after it was legalized, city officials realized that move had not served to reduce abuses. A proposed new national law would create a database of registered prostitutes, but it has never been passed by Parliament.

Dutch officials are now studying Sweden’s prostitution laws as a possible model. Swedish law criminalizes only visiting prostitutes and does not punish the prostitutes themselves.

Orignal story found here.

Original Calgary Herald article found here

BY LIBARDO CARDONA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NOVEMBER 16, 2012
BOGOTA – Tanja Nijmeijer, 34, is a middle-class child of the Netherlands who for the past decade has been mixed up in a Latin American revolution as a jungle fighter, at least once narrowly escaping death in a military bombardment.

And though her current role in the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia is not exactly clear, Nijmeijer is drawing plenty of attention within the rebel delegation for peace talks that are set to begin Monday in Havana.

Colombian government officials privately grumble that Nijmeijer, the only known rebel fighter from outside Latin America, will be an unwelcome distraction at the talks on ending a half-century-old conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Nijmeijer is expected to play some sort of a public relations role, putting an international face on a peasant-based movement with no fluent English speakers in its top ranks.

“They say I’m here because I’ve been in the FARC for 10 years, am a guerrilla and speak English. I can translate our documents. That’s useful,” the Dutch newspaper Trouw quoted her as saying in an interview published last weekend.

Her PR value to the insurgents was evident in a YouTube music video the FARC released early this month to mark her arrival in Cuba. In it, she raps with other rebels, then sings and strums guitar in a ballad honouring slain former FARC field marshal Jorge Briceno.

“She is going to be a very useful woman,” said Jorge Enrique Botero, an independent Colombian journalist who first met her in 2003, a year after she joined the Western Hemisphere’s oldest active insurgency. “She is physically very strong and is full of political conviction, which is reflected in each and every one of her words.”

A former Romance language major, she speaks German, French and Italian in addition to English, Spanish and her native Dutch, he says. She also has apparently plunged fully into some of the FARC’s more controversial activities: shaking down businesses, setting bombs and helping hold hostages.

Nijmeijer is wanted for arrest in Colombia on rebellion charges but that warrant was suspended during the peace talks at the government’s request, said Colombia’s chief prosecutor, Eduardo Montealegre.

The United States has not, however, lifted an arrest warrant that names her as a co-conspirator in the hostage-holding of three U.S. military contractors who were captive for five years until their 2008 rescue along with former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt.

Five months after the Americans’ single-engine surveillance plane crashed in rebel territory after a mechanical failure, Nijmeijer served as their translator when they were interviewed by Botero for a proof-of-life video.

Nijmeijer first visited Colombia in 2000 on a work-exchange program after writing her thesis on the FARC at the University of Groningen in her homeland. She taught English to well-heeled children at a private school in the western city of Pereira.

Nijmeijer’s politics also were shaped by her experience volunteering almost daily in a shantytown near Pereira.

“Colombia was the turning point,” a college friend who worked with Nijmeijer in Colombia told The Associated Press in 2007.

“She was so shocked by the gap between the rich and poor and was determined to do something about it,” added the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to violate Nijmeijer’s family’s desire for privacy.

Nijmeijer joined the FARC, which the United States and European Union classify as a terrorist organization, in October 2002 and was assigned to an urban cell in Bogota. Soon after, according to Botero, who wrote a biography of Nijmeijer, she was soliciting “war taxes” from merchants in the capital.

When the owners of a sportswear company refused to pay, Nijmeijer and another rebel set off a bomb in their warehouse at night, he said.

Court documents obtained by the AP describe various crimes allegedly committed by Nijmeijer in Bogota: “the bombing of the Kennedy police station, arson attacks on the Transmilenio (public bus system)” and on two major supermarkets, Makro and Exito.

None of the documents speak of casualties — a fact she noted in the interview with Trouw, the Dutch newspaper.

“Nobody was killed or injured in the attack on a bus. Other attacks, on companies that refused to pay revolutionary taxes, always happened in the middle of the night. I am 100 per cent sure that no civilians ever died.”

She also defended FARC kidnapping and extortion.

“People who don’t pay their taxes to the state go to jail. People who don’t pay our revolutionary tax go to our jail. That’s what they call kidnapping, though we’ve decided not to do it any longer.”

“As far as attacks are concerned: We’re an army,” she added. “We use weapons and those weapons kill.”

Nijmeijer first met celebrity in 2007 when Colombian soldiers found a diary, written in Dutch, in a rebel camp the military had bombed. The author was disillusioned, sarcastic.

“I am tired, tired of the FARC, tired of these people, tired of the communal life. Tired of never having anything for myself,” Nijmeijer wrote in the diary, which Colombia’s then-Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who is now its president, disseminated with delight.

Santos said the diary should discourage any thoughts abroad that the FARC’s struggle is heroic.

“In certain circles in Europe the romantic image persists that the rebels are like Robin Hood, or ‘Che’ Guervara, fighting against evil for the good of the poor,” Santos said. “Nijmeijer fell into that trap.”

She described the FARC’s commanders, all men, as materialistic and corrupt and complained about their strict discipline — no smoking, no phone calls, no romantic relationships without their consent.

People speculated that she’d be punished, perhaps even executed for insubordination.

Terrified, members of her immediate family travelled to Colombia to seek her out and try to talk her into leaving.

She refused.

The next time she was heard from publicly was in 2010, when Botero released a video interview of her in a rebel camp in which she defiantly professes allegiance to the FARC.

“Just come and try to ‘free’ me and we’ll receive you here with AK (Kalashnikov rifles), with .50 (calibremachine-guns), she says, dressed in olive green fatigues and cradling an assault rifle.

She was by then under the command of the top FARC commander Briceno, who would be killed in a September 2010 military bombardment that Nijmeijer survived.

Nijmeijer told Botero last year that she could hear Briceno yelling to his aide after the first few bombing runs to get his fighters out of the camp.

And then both were silenced.

___

Associated Press Writers Michael Corder in the Hague and Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report.

Original DutchNews article here

Wednesday 13 July 2011

 

A new dress code for the police includes a ban on religious symbols such as crosses and headscarves, the Nederlands Dagblad reports on Wednesday.

 

The code emphasises that the police are there for all citizens and obvious religious affiliations are not desirable, the paper says. Instead, the aim is for ‘lifestyle neutrality’.

 

Large tattoos and unusual piercings are also no longer acceptable because they could frighten or intimidate people. Police officers with large tattoos will have to cover them up.

 

The new requirements have been around for some time but their implementation was delayed by the collapse of the previous government and objections from police unions, the paper says.

 

Originally, the new dress code was to have been enshrined in law but union objections led to the creation of a code of conduct instead. The unions were keen to ensure flexibility in the rules and ‘some room for officers’ own identities,’ a spokesman said.

 

 

Find original Radio Netherlands article here

The Public Prosecutors’ Office in Peru is seeking a 30-year jail sentence against Dutch murder suspect Joran van der Sloot. His Peruvian lawyer has told populist newspaper De Telegraaf that the authorities made the announcement after concluding their investigation into Van der Sloot’s alleged role in the death of Stephany Flores, the daughter of a well-known businessman.

In Peru the maximum penalty for murder is 20 years, but the Public Prosecutors’ Office says a more severe sentence is warranted because of the excessively cruel nature of the crime. Stephany Flores was found dead in a Lima hotel room rented in the name of Joran van der Sloot. CCTV footage from the hotel shows the Dutchman taking her up to his room.

Joran van der Sloot is still a suspect in the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway who was last seen in his company on the island of Aruba in May 2005. He was arrested but eventually released due to insufficient evidence after an extensive investigation involving local, Dutch and US investigators.

In March 2010, Van der Sloot approached Natalee’s mother with an offer to reveal the location of her daughter’s body and the circumstances surrounding her death for an advance of 25,000 US dollars. The information he provided proved false and the US authorities have since issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of extortion and wire fraud. In an interview with De Telegraaf in September 2010, Van der Sloot admitted to the extortion plot. He said “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family. Her parents have been making my life tough for five years.”