DEN HAAG, June 15 -- Investigators will next week announce criminal proceedings against suspects in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 five years ago, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists.
MH17 was shot out of the sky over territory held by separatists in eastern Ukraine as it flew from Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 people on board. There were 38 Australians, one New Zealander, 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians were aboard, as well as 10 British passengers. The other passengers were from Germany, Belgium, the Philippines and Canada.
Dutch prosecutors said yesterday a multinational investigation team would present its latest findings to media and families on June 19. A spokesman for the national Dutch prosecution service declined to specify what would be announced. Citing anonymous sources reported that the public prosecution service had decided to launch a case against several MH17 suspects. Also reported that criminal proceedings will be announced against individual suspects. No suspects were named in the reports.
The Joint Investigation Team, which seeks to try the suspects under Dutch law, has said the missile system came from the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Brigade, based in the western Russian city of Kursk.
Investigators had said their next step would be to identify individual culprits and to attempt to put them on trial.
Dutch officials have said Russia has refused to cooperate. Russia is not expected to surrender any potential suspects who may be on its territory and authorities have said individuals could be tried in absentia. The Joint Investigation Team was formed in 2014 by Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine to investigate collaboratively. The Netherlands and Australia hold Russia legally responsible. Moscow denies all involvement and maintains that it does not support, financially or with equipment, pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian government troops.
DEN HAAG, June 11 -- Two Dutch-Belgian orphans of Islamic State fighters were amongst a group of fourteen others to have been flown into Europe from Syria on Monday, according to reports.
A French military airplane carrying two Dutch-Belgian children and twelve French orphans landed in a Paris airport on Monday. The orphans lived in the Ain Issa refugee camp in Syria, close to the country’s Turkish border, and were said to be in a “particularly vulnerable” situation. The two orphans are thought to be the children of a late Antillean-Dutch woman and a now-deceased Belgian Islamic State (IS) fighter. Dutch authorities were present when the airplane landed in Paris, and will reportedly entrust both children to a Dutch guardian. The French orphans will be handed over to social security services in the country. Around 250 children are thought to be still living in refugee camps and other locations across Syria, according to Reuters. In May, a group of academics signed an open letter calling for Belgium to honour a 2017 commitment to repatriate the orphans of all jihadist fighters. That year, a court ruling had obliged Belgium to repatriate all orphans under the age of ten. With the recent repatriations, France has now brought back 17 IS orphans from Syria.
DAMASCUS, June 10 -- Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined Islamic State.
France and the Netherlands have taken custody of 14 French and Dutch orphans of Islamic State (IS) fighters in northeast Syria, an official in the Kurdish-led administration there said on Monday. Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined IS and their relatives after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the group's last enclave earlier this year. Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of the foreign relations committee of the administration that runs the northeastern quarter of Syria held by the SDF, said it had handed over the children to foreign ministry delegations from France and the Netherlands. France took back 12 orphaned French children from IS families and the Netherlands took back two Dutch orphans, he said in Tweets. Last week, the Kurdish-led authorities said they had repatriated two US women along with six children. Few countries have yet seemed willing to take back their citizens, who may be hard to prosecute. The Kurdish-led administration and the SDF have said they cannot indefinitely hold thousands of foreigners, but no clear international policy has emerged over how to handle the issue. Many of the relatives of captured IS fighters are located in al-Hol, a camp for displaced people where aid agencies have warned of dire humanitarian conditions.
Under British and international law, it is illegal to make an individual stateless. Britain, however, can make its citizens stateless if they have dual nationality. Critics of the move claim that Javid made the decision to revoke Begum's citizenship because she would be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship because of her parents' heritage. The Bangladesh government has rejected the UK claim that she is a Bangladesh citizen.
On Sunday, one of Britain's most senior judges questioned Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her British citizenship. Jonathan Sumption, who retired as a justice of the Supreme Court in December, indicated that the Home Secretary may have broken international law with his actions. Speaking on the BBC's Reith Lecture, Lord Sumption said: "I am frankly surprised at the suggestion that she can be regarded as the citizen of a country with which she has never had anything to do [with], but that is the government's position and I have no doubt it will be tested in the courts in due course." Asked if the removal of citizenship also meant a person lost their standing under human rights, Lord Sumption said: "What they lose is their citizenship. That doesn't necessarily deprive them of their standing when it comes to human rights. "I have no problem with the notion of depriving people of their citizenship who have gone abroad to fight in foreign wars save this. "It's an established principle of international law that you cannot deprive somebody of his or her citizenship if the result would be to render them stateless. "And whatever they may have done in Syria or anywhere else, that rule has always been applied and will no doubt be applied in this case." Two independent legal challenges have been launched in response to Javid's decision to revoke Begum of her citizenship.
ISTANBUL, June 8 -- German footballer Mesut Ozil has tied the knot, with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his best man.
The Turkish-German midfielder married his fiance, actress and model Amine Gulse, on Friday at a ceremony along the Bosporus in Istanbul that was attended by many statesmen and celebrities. Photos of the wedding showed a smiling Erdogan and his wife Emine standing next to the couple as their marriage was formalised. Ozil and Gulse, who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2014, also made a hefty donation to the Turkish Red Crescent to provide a meal to some 15,000 Syrian refugees.
Ozil announced in March this year that he had asked Erdogan to be his best man. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff was part of a chorus of criticism of the invitation. Helge Braun of Germany's leading party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told Bild newspaper at the time that it "makes one sad" that Ozil would make such a move despite having been sharply criticised by the German public over his first meeting with Erdogan. The footballer whipped up a political storm when he was pictured alongside Erdogan in May 2018. Criticism intensified after Germany crashed out of the first round of the World Cup in Russia.
After the summer defeat, Ozil posted a lengthy statement announcing his resignationfrom the national team and accusing German football officials of racism. Ozil, who now plays for Arsenal, had made 92 appearances for Germany and played a key role in their 2014 World Cup victory. He said he was being blamed for Germany's disappointing World Cup performance. Ozil also said the German Football Association head, Reinhard Grindel, failed to support him when he received hate mail, threatening phone calls, and racist comments on social media after Germany left the World Cup. "I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Ozil said, adding that despite his successful history with the team, the way he was treated made him "no longer want to wear the German national team shirt". Without Ozil, Germany started their UEFA Nations League journey with three consecutive bad results. They drew with France 0-0 at home, were defeated by the Netherlands 3-0 and by France 1-2 in an away match. Germany also lost six of their last 10 matches and were relegated to League B in the UEFA Nations League. Erdogan often attends marriages of Turkish celebrities, whom he particularly seeks out during election campaigns. His presence at Ozil's marriage comes ahead of a mayoral election in Istanbul on June 23, required after the original voting in March was annulled following a narrow victory for the main opposition Republican People's Party.
LAGOS, June 2 -- Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt insists he wants his future sorted before the start of pre-season but dismissed claims Ronald Koeman’s potential move to Barcelona would influence his decision.
The 19-year-old is expected to leave the Amsterdam giants this summer after a scintillating campaign in which Ajax reached the semi-finals of the Champions League. Barcelona had been expected to sign de Ligt but his stunning form towards the end of the season has attracted the likes of Manchester United to the teenager. The Catalans were knocked out by Liverpool in the semi-finals of the Champions League and lost the Copa del Rey final to Valencia a fortnight later. Those defeats are expected to cost Ernesto Valverde his job and Koeman has been linked with taking over at the Camp Nou. Koeman currently manages de Ligt as Netherlands boss and made the move himself as a player from Holland to Spain.
However, de Ligt says Koeman’s move would have no bearing on his decision. ‘At the end of the day, you look at yourself only. He [Ronald Koeman] does know me well but the fact that he is Dutch won’t matter a lot [if Koeman joins Barcelona],’ said de Ligt. ‘Why does it take so long for me to make a decision on my future? For months there have been reports about me and the transfer period itself hasn’t even started yet, so, fine question from you. It’s not that I write it. The media does that. ‘I just want to finish this season first and focus on that [making decision on future]. I do prefer to play the pre-season with my new club, or with Ajax. I don’t know when it will happen but I hope will be as soon as possible.’
VIENNA, June 1 -- 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg does not go to school for a year after the summer, so that she can fully commit herself to fighting climate change.
She said that during a climate action in Austria. She wants to go to the United Nations climate summit in New York in September and also wants to visit the global climate conference in Chile in December. Her family has told the German news agency DPA that they are investigating how to cross the Atlantic Ocean the fastest. She wants to sail because she doesn't want to fly because of her conviction.
With her weekly school strike, Thunberg inspired young people all over the world to play truant for a better climate. Thousands of climate jugglers also participated in a protest march several times in the Netherlands. That so many young people play truant for the climate, Thunberg calls the leaders a sign. "It indicates that something is very wrong. And it is also not going well. Global emissions are still rising. We are doing far too little about this emergency situation. Time is running out and therefore I have decided to take a one-year sabbatical "said Thunberg in Vienna.
UTRECHT, May 31 -- The motorcycle club Hells Angels are now banned in the Netherlands, a court in Utrecht has ruled.
They say that Hells Angels are a criminal group and have a violent culture and this should and will be banned. For the first time ever the motorcycle club ‘Hells Angels’ have been banned completely. According to NOS, the Netherlands is the first country to do this. In many other countries, the Hells Angels group are part-banned, but they are not banned entirely. The Public Prosecution Service said that ‘there is a culture of violence within the club that endangers society and the rule of law’ and the judge agreed. The court feels that the Hells Angels are a threat to public order and that members see themselves as above the law. This will end from now on.
What/who are the Hells Angels?
The Hells Angels are one of the largest motorcycle gangs in the world and are found in many countries. They have been associated with violent and organised crime (such as trafficking and drug dealing). They are distinguishable by their military-style patches on their jackets and also ride Harley Davidson’s. Members of the Hell’s Angels are usually white males, which is allegedly one of the criteria in order to be a part of the club (something which they dispute). The Hells Angels have been active in the Netherlands for around 40 years.
Influence in the Netherlands
According to reports, there have been a number of incidents involving the Hells Angels. One of these is a huge dispute where shots were fired with The Mongols motorcycle club in a Van der Valk hotel in Rotterdam, back in 2016. A cafe (the base of Bandidos motorcycle club) was also burnt out in 2015, luckily family and children managed to escape onto the roof.
KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 31 -- The Malaysian government wants strong evidence to show that Russia is responsible for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 tragedy in 2014, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"They are accusing Russia, but where is the evidence? "We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian-type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine. "You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. "It could be by the rebels in Ukraine, it could be Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,” he said during a dialogue and media conference with the Japanese Foreign Correspondent Club (FCCJ) here on Thursday (May 30).
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia accepted the investigation report by Holland but only up the point where the plane was brought down by a missile made by Russia. He said while the government agreed that the plane was brought down by a Russian missile, it could not be ascertained that the missile was launched by Russia. The Russians were a military people and they would know that MH17 was a passenger plane, he added. "I don’t think very highly disciplined party is responsible for launching the missile,” he said. The Prime Minister said Malaysia should also have been involved in the examining the black box as the plane belonged to Malaysia and there were Malaysians passengers. "We may not have the expertise, but we can buy the expertise. For some reasons, Malaysia was not allowed to check the black box to see what happened. "We don’t know why we were excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it, and the idea was not to find out how this happened but seemed to be concentrated on trying to pin it on the Russians. "This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Dr Mahathir.
Had a neutral party examined and made the conclusion, Malaysia would be willing to accept the findings but here we have parties with political interests in the matter, he added. Flight MH17, which departed from Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam on its way to Kuala Lumpur, was shot before crashing near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 40km from the Russian border on July 17, 2014. The incident killed 298 people, including 15 crew members. Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) said the team was convinced that a BUK TELAR missile was used to down MH17, and that it originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade (53rd Brigade), which is a unit of the Russian Army in Kursk in the Russian Federation.
THE HAGUE, May 29 -- The Holland Garden pavilion, a mini green city, has fascinated many at the 2019 International Horticultural Exhibition in Beijing.
For Chinese and Dutch actors in sustainable urban development, a shared passion for doing it green brings vigor to bilateral cooperation. With state-of-the-art developments showcased at the Beijing expo, the Netherlands has again proved itself to be a global trend setter in Green living. Over the past more than 30 years, the Dutch and the Chinese have worked together to introduce a variety of Dutch native plants and flowers and new planting technologies and management into China, said the Chinese embassy in the European country. Bernard Oosterom, president of the International Association of Horticultural Producers, said China's horticultural industry has grown rapidly, with some of its domestic enterprises at the forefront of new technologies. "I firmly believe that the Beijing expo will bring the attention of the world to what China is doing to help the environment and improve the lives of citizens," the veteran Dutch gardener added. "It is my hope that this will lead to collective action that will lead to a better environment and greener cities through the use of plants and the landscape," he said.
A green city is much more than green plants, and horticulture is not the only area where the Dutch and the Chinese people are conducting cooperation to promote sustainable development. For example, in the field of urban water and land resources management, a consortium of Dutch institutes and businesses was created in September 2017 to promote joint research programs and commercial, tailored solutions with Chinese partners. Its many well-known members, including Deltares, Eijkelkamp, Priva and Tauw, boast expertise in areas ranging from sponge city design and planning, environmental big data monitoring and simulation, environmental and urban housing research to intelligent buildings technology and environmental control systems. As regards waste management and circular economy, the Netherlands likes to call itself "a small country with big ambitions." It has committed itself to becoming a zero-waste economy by 2050, wherein the economy will run completely on reusable raw materials. A Dutch group on waste management comprising research institutes and leading business players has already started working with the Chinese side to develop innovative plans on how to handle the problem. "China, with the largest population on earth, has a tremendous opportunity to turn waste into valuable resources and the Dutch partnership for waste management is eager to contribute to China's goal to create a proper waste management system as a crucial building block toward achieving that goal," said the Dutch Sino Business Promotions.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR), a Dutch global knowledge leader in areas like water resource management, climate change and urban farming, also has broad experience in developing green cities. "We do several projects on landscape architecture and nature-inclusive design of areas in China in order to create more liveable urban development," Tim van Hattum, the leader of the WUR's Green Climate Solutions program, said. "WUR is strong in a bottom-up co-design approach by organizing tools and services to co-create integrated solution together with stakeholders. We have knowledge of nature-based approaches, landscape architecture, and China is strong in large-scale pilot projects (such as the sponge city program) and large-scale implementation and urban development," he said. "The WUR green city approach could be of added value for urban development in China and there is definitely potential for future collaboration on the topic of green city development," he added. Zhang Guosheng, economic counselor of the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands, agrees that with the previous fruitful projects paving the way, the Sino-Dutch cooperation in building green cities is promising. "The Dutch are strong in green growth, and we Chinese are eager for a greener life," he said. "Cooperation in this field will offer not only a bigger market for Dutch enterprises, a better life for Chinese people, but also good cases for others to study."
AMSTERDAM, May 28 -- The working week in the Netherlands has begun with travel chaos. Public transport staff are staging a 24-hour strike which has brought almost all rail, tram, bus and ferry services to a standstill.
As a result, Amsterdam Schiphol airport has instructed airlines to cancel dozens of flights – including many to and from the UK. The airport, which is normally well served by public transport from across the Netherlands and beyond, is fearing traffic gridlock as passengers switch to taxis or Uber. It is telling the public: “Do not travel to Schiphol unless absolutely necessary. “We expect high congestion on the roads to and from the airport.” Flybe has cancelled multiple services from Southampton, Birmingham, Manchester, Exeter and East Midlands to the Dutch airport. Four EasyJet flights linking Gatwick with Amsterdam have been grounded, with passengers told: “Amsterdam airport authorities have asked all airlines to reduce the number of flights arriving and departing at Amsterdam Schipol airport. ”This is in order to minimise the amount of passengers travelling to and from the airport. We understand that this is a frustrating situation.”
The airline added: “In accordance with EU261 regulations, customers will not be entitled to claim for compensation as a result of the industrial action.” All Eurostar services from London St Pancras to Rotterdam and Amsterdam have been cancelled for the day. Passengers have been offered the option of travelling to Brussels, switch to an alternative day or get a full refund. Public transport workers are stopping work as part of a dispute over pension arrangements, and are demanding that retirement age remains at 66.
NS, the national train operator, said: “We regrettably advise passengers not to travel by train. “As a result of industrial action across the entire public transport sector, there are very limited or no train services throughout the country today. “Where possible we will run trains. However this will be limited and unpredictable.” The operator hopes to run a limited rail service, four times an hour, between Schiphol airport and Amsterdam Centraal station from 5am to 9pm. Reports suggest that Uber’s surge pricing is increasing fares by 2.5 times. Staff employed by some local bus operators in Utrecht and some other small cities and towns are not striking. The Dutch motoring organisation, the ANWB, has called for commuters to work from home on Tuesday or, if that is not possible, to carshare. NS is warning that rail services will be hit knock-on effects on Wednesday as a result of the industrial action.