Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (3478)

Two women, one dead and one injured, found under bridge

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police have discovered the body of one woman, and a second who had been injured, under a bridge in Haaksbergen, in the east of the Netherlands.

They say the women appear to be the victims of a crime and have appealed for witnesses. The women, who were found by police shortly after midnight, have not yet been identified.

The N18 and the A35 near Enschede have been closed while work continues on establishing the cause of the death. The injured woman has been taken to hospital but police have not said anything about serious her injuries are.



Lawyers flouted rules on cash payment on a massive scale: NRC

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch criminal lawyers have been flouting their own code of conduct on a massive scale by accepting cash payments when there is no practical need to do so, an investigation by sector watchdog Financieel Toezicht Advocatuur (unit FTA) and shared with the NRC has shown.

Lawyers are only allowed to accept cash if a client has no bank account or if the bank account has been sequestered.

However, the investigation, among some 45 law firms across the country, revealed that crowd funding by relatives has led to cash payments, and that lawyers have accepted cash from clients who work in sectors where this is more common, such as the car or hospitality sector.

Payments which exceeded €5,000 were often not discussed with the proper authorities which is also a rule.

The investigation, which covered the years between 2018 and 2020, found that the rules were broken in a large number of cases until the practice started to attract attention in 2020.

‘It is a serious business that the rules were not followed to this extent,’ Evert-Jan Henrichs, chairman of the regional bar council chiefs’ organisation Dekenberaad, told the NRC.

‘We must conclude that a culture has been allowed to develop in which the rules surrounding cash payments have been largely ignored. And we, as regional chiefs, have perhaps been not as vigilant as we could have been,’ he said.

There is a risk that lawyers may have been guilty of money laundering but, Henrichs said, investigators and the public prosecutor will not be actively pursuing perpetrators.

The investigation is ‘thematic and not a criminal investigation,’ Henrichs said. Many lawyers have since stopped accepting cash, although in a number of cases the deans will conduct ‘a further investigation’.

The deans have also announced stricter controls and a €1,000 limit on cash payments as well as a new annual survey to monitor the practice.



PSV beat Ajax 5-3 to take the Johan Cruijff Shield

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Eindhoven football club PSV opened the football season on Saturday evening in goal-rich fashion, with a 5-3 win over Ajax to take the Johan Cruijff Shield – also known as the Dutch Super Cup.

The match was the first official one for KNVB Cup winners PSV under new coach Ruud van Nistelrooij. Ajax, who took the league title last season, also have a new coach in Alfred Schreuder.

Guus Til scored a hat trick for PSV while Cody Gakpo made two assists and a goal. Ajax’ new buy Steven Bergwijn, Antony and Mohammed Kudus scored for the Amsterdammers.

‘Everyone survived the match in one piece and a number of lads made their debut,’ Van Nistelrooij told ESPN after the game. ‘We made five great goals and won a trophy. This was to be savoured, a dream start.’

Schreuder said he had seen a lot of good things from his team, in terms of possession and in the attack but more needs to be done in the defence. On Wednesday, PSV meet AS Monaco in the third round of the Champions League qualifying competition.

Ajax are next action at the weekend against Fortuna Sittard, as the Eredivisie kicks off.



Max Verstappen, Formula 1 drivers act to condemn abuse

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Formula 1 racing drivers, including Dutch championship leader Max Verstappen, have issued a video statement calling on fans to drive abuse out of the sport.

All the drivers, plus F1 boss Stefano Domenicali and FIA chairman Mohammed Ben Sulayem took part in the video, which comes after crowd trouble at the Austrian Grand Prix three weeks ago.

‘If you cannot be respectful, don’t be part of our sport,’ the script states. ‘We cannot let those who think they can abuse others to get away with it,’ said British driver Lewis Hamilton, who has been on the receiving end of much of the abuse.

‘We are united, and ask you to join us in driving this out,’ said Verstappen in his segment.

Dutch fans were blamed for a number of incidents in Austria, and they were condemned by both Verstappen and the Red Bull team as well as the F-1 organisers at the time.

An estimated 50,000 were at the race, but were criticized for cheering after Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell crashed in qualifying. Posts on social media also complained of sexist, racist and homophobic slurs by the Dutch fans.

‘These things shouldn’t happen. I read a few shocking things, so that’s clearly not OK,’ Verstappen said. ‘A normal human being should think like that and should behave like that.’

The 13th Grand Prix of the season takes place in Hungary on Sunday, with Verstappen qualifying in 10th place at the start. The Zandvoort edition takes place in September.



Councils housing Ukrainians but not other refugees is discrimination

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch human rights council has urged the government to stop differentiating between Ukrainian refugees and those from other countries, saying it is discrimination to allow local councils to pick and choose who to provide housing for.

Ukrainian nationals who have fled the fighting have been allowed into the Netherlands under an EU friendship treaty and do not have to abide by the same registration and other rules as most refugees.

In addition, some local authorities which are refusing to provide temporary housing for refugees from Syria or Yemen have made accommodation available to Ukrainians. This, the council says, is discriminatory.

While Ukrainian refugees do have a specific legal position, that does not mean they should be given priority in housing, the council said. Ukrainians can only be given priority if they are in a worse position as a group than other refugees and this is not the case, the council said.

‘Basically, it concerns two groups in a similar situation: people who have been displaced and need protection because they are in a vulnerable position.’ The council also said the government must do more to develop small scale housing projects for all refugees.

Not all refugees are equal. Do the Dutch have double standards? Several thousand beds across the country which had been earmarked for Ukrainian refugees are thought to be currently empty.

At the same time over 15,000 other refugees who have residency permits are still living in refugee centres because there is nowhere for them to move to.



Farmer protests continue as LTO agrees to talks with mediator

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Radical farmers again dumped rubbish on roads and set fire to bales of hay overnight, as their campaign against the government’s strategy to combat nitrogen-based pollution continued.

Asbestos was found at two of the 14 locations where farm and building waste had been dumped, local media reported. Most of the rubbish was cleared up before rush hour and there were no road closures on Friday morning.

Nevertheless, the government’s highways agency urged motorists to be extra careful and to remain aware they could come across obstacles on the roads.

The agency said on Thursday evening that it would make formal police complaints about the vandalism and the threats levied at workers drafted in to clean up the mess, as well as trying to recover the cost of the clean-up from the farmers themselves.

‘Our people are being threatened and intimidated,’ director general Michèle Blom told a television talk show. It is also a ‘miracle’ that there have only been three accidents so far because of the dumping, she said.

Police said on Friday they had made their first arrest, that of a 42-year-old man who was caught red handed dumping rubbish on the A18 on Thursday evening.


Meanwhile, the country’s main farming union LTO has now said it will sit down to talks with the government’s mediator Johan Remkes, following the reported intervention of prime minister Mark Rutte in a phone call.

The move appears to have only increased the divide between the bulk of the farming community and its radical flanks, with the head of one group, the Farmers Defence Force describing the news as a ‘betrayal’.


Former farm minister Cees Veerman, who is an arable farmer himself, told broadcaster NOS the government had made a mistake in its approach. Much of the farmers’ anger stems from the publication of a map of the Netherlands which shows where nitrogen emissions need to be cut and by how much.

Many farmers took this to mean that their farm would have to close. Nationwide, the government has set a target of a 50% cut in nitrogen emissions by 2030, in order to meet EU nature protection targets.

Government officials are divided about how many farms will have to close down or reduce their livestock to meet the deadline.



Ukrainian refugees help boost population of NL to 17.7 million

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The population of the Netherlands grew by a record 120,000 in the first six months of this year, but much of that was down to the arrival of 76,600 refugees from Ukraine, new figures from national statistics office CBS show.

In total, 195,000 people moved to the Netherlands in the 2022 first half and 72,000 people left. People fleeing the conflict in Ukraine accounted for 55% of the new 138,000 new arrivals from outside the EU, the CBS said.

Excluding them, the population would have grown by about 50,000.

More people died than were born – there were 81,000 births and 84,000 deaths – taking the net increase in the population to 119,900, or 17.7 million.


The CBS said last week that a total of 208,000 foreign nationals moved to the Netherlands last year, after a year in which immigration fell sharply because of the coronavirus restrictions.

The biggest group, nearly 117,500, came from other EU countries or the EFTA, while returning Dutch nationals from abroad accounted for almost 44,500 ‘new’ arrivals.

Nearly 90,700 people came from outside Europe, of whom 29,000 came to join family members and 21,000 requested asylum. The trouble in Afghanistan and Syria helped drive refugee numbers up by 75%, the CBS said.



Arrests made after string of shootings in Oss and Rotterdam

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch police have arrested a total of 13 people in two separate investigations into shootings in Oss in Brabant, and in Rotterdam. In Oss, two men have been arrested after four separate houses in the town were shot at within a week.

The two, from nearby Veghel, are 22 and 25 years old. Police found two guns as well as drugs during searches of their homes during the arrests. The two are suspected of attempted murder, vandalism, and threatening behaviour but their exact role in the shootings has not been made public.

No-one was injured in the shootings, but the violence may be connected to the murder of a 23-year-old man in Oss in April who was shot dead while riding his moped. Police have declined to comment on a possible link.

In Rotterdam, 11 suspects have been arrested in an investigation into shootings and explosions at a number of homes. The wave of violence, thought to be drugs related, started in February.

One of the 11 remains in custody. He was arrested on Monday and police found a quantity of drugs and thousands of euros in cash during a search of his home. The other 10 were arrested in May and have since been released but remain suspects in the investigation.



Dutch gas prices are second highest in Europe

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The price of gas in the Netherlands is the second highest in Europe, with only households in Sweden paying more, according to an analysis by website

The research is based on figures from the Household Energy Price Index, produced by the Austrian and Hungarian regulators, and which compares prices across 33 countries.

Dutch consumers are currently paying 23.3 cents per kilowatt hour for gas, or €2.25 per cubic metre including tax, which is double the European average of 12.4 cents.

The situation in both Germany and Belgium is in line with the average, with charges of 14.2 cents and 12.2 cents respectively.

‘Some 37% of Dutch gas bills is down to taxes, the highest percentage in all of Europe,’ spokesman Koen Kuijper said. ‘In addition, markets which are strongly dependent on imported gas often have higher prices than those with more water, nuclear and coal-fired energy.’

Electricity charges in the Netherlands are also higher than in many EU countries but the difference is not as sharp as with gas. The Dutch pay an average of 30.5 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity, which is four cents above the European average.

Electricity is most expensive – 51 cents per kilowatt hour – in Italy and cheapest in Hungary at 9.9 cents. Compared with last year, European electricity prices have risen by an average of 42%, while gas prices are up 83%.

Year end

Kuijper said he expects the biggest problem for Dutch consumers to come at the end of the year, when fixed energy contracts expire and people increase their use of gas for heating.

The Dutch government has cut value added tax (btw) on fuel bills from 21% to 9% in an effort to reduce household bills and has come up with a compensation package.

European leaders on Tuesday agreed to take steps to ensure a voluntary 15% cut in gas usage over the next few months, to head of the risk of shortages because of the war in Ukraine.



Nearly 3,500 died from coronavirus in first three months of 2022

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – In total, some 3,480 people died from coronavirus in the first three months of this year, national statistics agency CBS has said.

The CBS figures are based on actual causes of death in the wider population and includes Covid deaths which were not reported to the public health institute RIVM.

The CBS said in June that around 40,000 people had died of coronavirus up to the end of last year, almost double the official figure quoted on the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

The official death rate now stands at 22,476. Most of those to die in the first three months of this year were over the age of 80 and 16% lived in residential care, the CBS said.


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