Dutch PM Didn’t See Dying Mother Due To COVID-19 Rules

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte holds documents during a parliamentary debate on the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19), in The Hague, on May 20, 2020. Bart MAAT / ANP / AFP
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte holds documents during a parliamentary debate on the coronavirus crisis (COVID-19), in The Hague, on May 20, 2020. Bart MAAT / ANP / AFP


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was unable to visit his dying mother in her final weeks because he obeyed coronavirus restrictions against visiting care homes, his office said Monday.

The news about Rutte emerged as Britain was gripped by a political row over allegations that the top aide to premier Boris Johnson broke COVID-19 rules to travel cross-country to stay on his parents’ estate.

Rutte on Monday announced the death of 96-year-old Mieke Rutte-Dilling in a home in The Hague on May 13, nearly two months after the government shut all such institutions to the public on March 20.

“The prime minister has complied with all directives”, Rutte’s spokesman told AFP when asked about reports that the premier had stuck to the rules and so not seen his mother before she died.

His mother did not die of coronavirus although there had earlier been an outbreak of the disease in the home where she was living, Dutch media reported.

Rutte earlier announced his mother’s death, saying that “in addition to the great sadness and all fond memories, my family and I also have a feeling of gratitude that we were allowed to have her with us for so long.”

“We have now said goodbye to her in a family circle and hope to be able to deal with this great loss in peace in the near future,” he added.

Dutch authorities allowed individual visits to some care homes from Monday, a measure that will be extended to all of them on June 15.

The Netherlands — which has imposed an “intelligent lockdown” with less strict conditions than many other European countries — has so far recorded 5,830 coronavirus deaths and 45,445 infections

Family Of Six ‘Waiting For End Of Time’ Found Underground

An aerial picture taken on October 15, 2019, shows a view of the farm where a father and six children had been living in the cellar, In Ruinerwold, northern Netherlands. The family lived in the cellar for years and where waiting for ‘the end of time’.
Wilbert Bijzitter / ANP / AFP


Dutch police found a father and six adult children hidden in the basement of a remote farmhouse where they had reportedly spent years “waiting for the end of time”, officials said Tuesday.

They discovered a man, believed to be the father of the family, and his children aged between 18 and 25 near the village of Ruinerwold in the northern province of Drenthe.

Local media said the family was found after one of the sons went to a nearby pub in a confused state, drank five beers and then asked for help, saying he had not been outside for nine years.

Police arrested a 58-year-old man at the scene for failing to cooperate with the investigation, but he was not the father.

“I have never come across anything like this before,” local mayor Roger de Groot told a press conference.

“Police investigated after receiving a tip-off from somebody who was concerned about the people’s living conditions” and discovered the adults, de Groot said.

“They lived an isolated lifestyle,” he said, adding that they had been living on the homestead for the past nine years and several of the children “had not been taken up in the birthing register” or officially registered.

Many questions were unanswered and police are investigating “all scenarios”, the mayor added.

The family meanwhile had been taken to a nearby holiday park while the investigation continued, reports said.

‘Living in a Basement’

Local news station RTV Drenthe, which first reported the story, said the family “have been living in a basement for years, waiting for the ‘end of times’.”

Some of those freed “had no idea that other people existed,” the station added.

Police were alerted after a man of around 25, believed to be the family’s oldest son, walked into a village bar on Sunday evening.

The dishevelled man, unwashed and wearing old clothes said “he has not been ‘outside’ for the past nine years,” bar owner Chris Westerbeek told RTV Drenthe.

“He said he’d never been to school and seemed very confused. He spoke in a childish way,” said Westerbeek.

The man told Westerbeek he ran away from home and urgently needed help, “so I phoned the police.”

Upon investigation, police discovered a hidden staircase behind a cupboard leading to a cellar where a man said to be the family’s father and five others, believed to be his children, were hiding.

Aerial photos showed a remote farmhouse surrounded by fields.

The family had no contact with the outside world and were completely self-reliant with a vegetable garden and a goat, RTV Drenthe said.

“The father had a stroke a few years ago and was lying in bed. There was no sign of his wife,” RTV Drenthe reported.

Neighbours told the station they did not know the family and they only knew that one man lived on the premises.

Police declined to give further details when contacted by AFP.

“All scenarios are being investigated. At this point we cannot give further information,” local police said on Twitter.

Shell Hit With Dutch Climate Change Lawsuit


Climate marchers handed in a lawsuit to Shell’s headquarters in the Netherlands on Friday aimed at forcing the oil giant to meet targets in the Paris accord.

Dozens of chanting activists went to the Anglo-Dutch firm’s base in The Hague, where they delivered a legal summons with a court date set for April 17.

Shell greeted the protesters with coffee from an electric drinks van. It said that while it “shares concerns about the climate” it “believes in a solution outside the courtroom.”

“This is a unique case,” Roger Cox, the lawyer for Dutch climate group Milieudefensie, told AFP.

“We are taking Shell to court because it’s not keeping to the aims of the Paris climate agreements. This way we are trying to prevent huge damage.”

The environmental groups say some 17,200 people have registered as co-complainants in the case, which Cox said would be the first of its kind.

Other groups involved in the case include ActionAid Netherlands, Both Ends, Fossielvrij NL, Greenpeace NL and Young Friends of the Earth NL.

The protesters carried banners with slogans such as “We Shell overcome — eventually” and red posters saying “Shell is as green as this poster.”

They also mounted a giant version of the summons with the signatures of the thousands of plaintiffs at Shell’s headquarters near the city centre.

Shell Netherlands CEO Marjan van Loon addressed the protesters outside the building, saying that fighting climate change was a “team sport” , the company said in a Twitter post with a photo.

“I would like to answer every finger, whether it is an index finger or a middle finger, with an outstretched hand,” it quoted her as saying.

 ‘Expose Shell’ 

In a summary of the 250-page document handed over to Shell, the groups said that under Dutch law Shell was unlawfully endangering peoples’ lives by not acting to prevent global warming.

“Internal and external documents show that Shell has known about climate change at least since the 1950s and has been aware of its large-scale and serious consequences at least since 1986,” it said.

“Although Shell knew, it has not taken any serious steps to minimise its share in climate change,” the document added.

Cox said that unlike previous cases which sought financial compensation for the effects of climate change, this one involves asking the judge to order Shell to ensure its activities have zero per cent carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Shell is responsible for 1.7 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions between 1988-2015, according to a peer-reviewed study of the 100 most polluting companies released two years ago.

It is also among five oil and gas majors that have spent more than $1 billion on lobbying against climate legislation since the Paris deal.

Shell’s plans for tackling climate change are “not consistent with the Paris goals”, said Harjeet Singh, who heads global climate activities at ActionAid.

“We need to expose Shell on this and in fact what it has been doing all this while is hiding and distorting facts and lobbying against climate policy,” Singh told AFP.

Climate change is a pressing issue in the Netherlands, where at least a third of the country lies below sea level.

The Dutch government was ordered by a court last year to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 per cent by 2020, following a legal challenge by another environmental group.

Thousands of Dutch students have rallied in Amsterdam and The Hague in recent weeks, urging the government to take action, with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte meeting the group’s leaders.


One Dead In Dutch Tram Shooting

Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. Robin van Lonkhuijsen / ANP / AFP


A gunman opened fire on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday, killing at least one person and wounding several in what officials said was a possible terrorist incident.

A body covered in a sheet was reportedly seen on the tracks as armed police and emergency services swarmed around the scene in one of the largest cities in the Netherlands.

Police said the attacker was still on the run after the incident.

READ ALSO: Convicted French Cardinal Barbarin To Resign

“A shooting occurred on the 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht… Multiple people have been injured. The surrounding area has been cordoned off and we are investigating the matter,” Utrecht police said on Twitter.

“It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte cancelled a meeting with his ruling coalition and was being briefed on the situation, officials said.

Police later said that “a possible terrorist motive is part of the investigation”.

The head of the Dutch national counter-terrorism service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said on Twitter that he was having “crisis consultations” over the incident.

“NCTV is monitoring the situation in #Utrecht. In close contact with local authorities. We cannot rule out the terrorist motive. The crisis team is activated,” he said.

“Offender still fugitive,” Aalbersberg said, adding that the terror threat level had been raised to the maximum of five in Utrecht for the next 18 hours.

Armed police surround tram 

Local media showed photographs of masked, armed police and emergency vehicles surrounding a tram that had stopped near a road bridge.

Tram traffic in the area was halted, operator Qbuzz was quoted as saying by the ANP news agency.

The Netherlands has been largely spared the kind of attacks which have rocked its closest European neighbours in the past few years, but there has been a series of recent scares.

In August, a 19-year-old Afghan with a German residence permit stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam’s busy Central Station before being shot and wounded.

In September, Dutch investigators said they had arrested seven people and foiled a “major attack” on civilians at a major event in the Netherlands.

They said they had found a large quantity of bomb-making materials including fertiliser likely to be used in a car bomb.

The men were arrested in the cities of Arnhem and Weert.

In June, two terror suspects were arrested while close to carrying out attacks including at an iconic bridge in Rotterdam and in France, prosecutors said.

The men aged 22 and 28, who were of Moroccan origin, made a film at the Erasmus bridge in which they sang a martyrdom song, they said.


Dutch Military Police Boost Security At Airports, Key Buildings

Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place.  Robin van Lonkhuijsen / ANP / AFP


The Netherlands has boosted security at airports and other key buildings after a shooting on a tram on Monday in which one person was killed and several wounded, Dutch military police said.

“In connection with the situation in Utrecht, the Royal Military Police is on high alert at the airports and at other vital buildings in The Netherlands,” the force said on Twitter.

Dutch Government Buys Stake In Air France-KLM, Says Minister

Dutch Minister of Finance Wopke Hoekstra speaks to the press at the Ministry of Finance in The Hague on February 26, 2019. The Dutch State has acquired a 12.68 percent interest in the Air France-KLM holding company.
Lex van Lieshout / ANP / AFP

The Netherlands has bought a 12.68 percent stake in Air France-KLM in a bid to strengthen its influence in the troubled airline, the Dutch finance minister said Tuesday.

“The aim is to eventually get to a position equal to that of the French state,” finance minister Wopke Hoekstra told a press conference in The Hague.

Nigerian Widows Challenge Shell In Dutch Court

Warri, Shell.




Four Nigerian women on Tuesday launched a court case in the Netherlands against oil giant Shell for alleged complicity in the execution of their husbands by the military regime in the 1990s.

The civil case has been brought by Esther Kiobel — the widow of Barinem Kiobel who was hanged in 1995 along with writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and seven others — and is backed by Amnesty International.

“My husband had a good heart. Now I am a poor widow who has lost everything,” Esther Kiobel was quoted as telling the court in The Hague by Dutch news agency ANP.

“The abuses that my family and I went through were a horrible experience that has traumatised us to this day,” added Kiobel, who fled Nigeria in 1998 and now lives in the United States.

Kiobel and one of the other widows were in court for opening arguments. The other two women whose husbands were killed were denied visas to attend.

Kiobel added in a statement issued through Amnesty that “over the years, Shell has continually fought to make sure this case is not heard in court. They have the resources to fight me instead of doing justice for my husband.”

The Dutch court writ alleges that Shell helped in the arrest of the men, who had sought to peacefully disrupt oil development in the Ogoni region because of health and environmental impacts.

Saro-Wiwa, president and founder of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and eight fellow activists were executed on November 10, 1995 after a military tribunal convicted them of the murder of four traditional Ogoni chiefs.

“These women believe that their husbands would still be alive today were it not for the brazen self-interest of Shell, which encouraged the Nigerian government’s bloody crackdown on protesters even when it knew the human cost,” Amnesty’s Mark Dummett said.

Shell denies all involvement in the men’s executions.

“The executions carried out by a military government at that time have deeply affected us,” a spokesman for the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said.

Shell said it had urged the Nigerian presidency to grant leniency “and we regret that no response was given.”

The Ogoni movement was set up in 1990 to fight against pollution and the destruction of the ecosystem of the 500,000-strong Ogoni community, which lives on an oil-rich parcel of land on the northern edge of the Niger Delta.

The executions provoked a global outcry and led to the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth. The west African country was re-admitted with the return of civilian rule in 1999.

Germany Out To Dent Dutch Dreams After ‘Slap In Face’ Year

Germany’s head coach Joachim Loew (C) attends a training session of the German national football team on November 17, 2018 in Leipzig, eastern Germany, to prepare for the UEFA Nations League match Germany vs the Netherlands to take place on November 19, 2018 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany.
Peter Endig / dpa / AFP


Germany want to end their ‘slap in the face’ year by beating the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen on Monday and preventing the Dutch from reaching the Nations League knock-out phase.

The Netherlands need just a point to qualify for the semi-finals after their 2-0 win over France on Friday, which sent Germany down to League B.

But relegated Germany could dash Dutch hopes of topping Group A1 with a win in their final game of 2018, which would hand first place and a semi-final berth to France.

After losing 3-0 away to the Dutch last month – one of a record six defeats the Germans have suffered in 2018 – head coach Joachim Loew needs a moral-boosting win as he rebuilds his team in the wake of their World Cup disaster.

“We have a point to prove and will do everything to win this match,” said Loew in Sunday’s press conference.

“It’s a shame for us that we can no longer turn the situation in the group, now we have to learn the right lessons and make the most of a disappointing year.

“We want to sign off with another strong performance to prove we are on the right track.

“We have been one of the most consistent teams over the last 10 years – this year was a real slap in the face, which was disappointing, but now it goes on.”

Germany are rebuilding after a woeful World Cup when they crashed out after the group stages in Russia. A youthful team, with an average age of just 24, beat Russia 3-0 in Leipzig last Thursday.

Goals by Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Niklas Suele saw off the Russians in a friendly, but Loew is likely to name a more experienced side against the Dutch.

– Revitalised –
Toni Kroos and Mats Hummels, both 2014 World Cup winners, are expected to come into the midfield and defence respectively.

Chief playmaker Marco Reus must shake off a bruised foot to make the starting line-up while Thomas Mueller is likely to come off the bench for his 100th appearance for Germany.

Loew says he wants to see Germany take their chances against Ronald Koeman’s revitalised Dutch, who inflicted a first defeat on France since their World Cup triumph with Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay scoring in Rotterdam.

“At the World Cup, our game lacked momentum and the killer instinct, we played too wide and we must focus more on attacking the opponent’s goal,” said Loew.

“We are on the right path, but we must continue to improve.”

The Netherlands meanwhile are resurgent after failing to qualify for the finals of both Euro 2016 and this year’s World Cup, but Koeman is taking nothing for granted despite his side hammering Germany in Amsterdam last month.

“I think the game against Germany will be more difficult than France,” said Koeman.

“The French like to play deep, Germany will attack and we have to be ready for that.

“It’s not realistic to say we are favourites, in the first round Germany were better for part of the game.

“We have a good balance, we are on a good way.”

Dutch Minister Ditches Saudi Summit Over Khashoggi

This video grab made on October 10, 2018, from CCTV footage obtained from Turkish news agency DHA shows Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (R) arriving at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, vanished on October 2 after entering the consulate to obtain official documents ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee. 
Demiroren News Agency / AFP


The Dutch finance minister has pulled out of a big investment conference in Saudi Arabia over the “very serious” disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government said on Thursday.

Wopke Hoekstra’s withdrawal from the October 23-25 Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh — dubbed the “Davos in the Desert” — follows that of French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and IMF chief Christine Lagarde.

“The disappearance of #Khashoggi is a very serious matter. Saudi Arabia has not yet been able to provide any clarification,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said as he announced the decision on Twitter.

“That is why we decided @WBHoekstra will not travel to Riyadh today. The Netherlands stands for press freedom, worldwide.”

An array of policy-makers and corporate chiefs have already pulled out of the conference in Saudi Arabia, risking the loss of lucrative business with the kingdom.

Khashoggi, who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States where he contributed to the Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

He was critical of some of Saudi Arabia’s policies.

Turkish officials claim he was killed and dismembered in the consulate by a hit squad which arrived from Riyadh — claims denied by the Saudi government.


Russia To Summon Dutch Ambassador Over Cyber Attack Claims

Russian President Vladimir Putin

The Russian foreign ministry was to summon the Dutch ambassador on Monday after the Netherlands said it had foiled a cyber attack by Russians, state news agencies reported.

“Due to the campaign of disinformation carried out in The Hague the Dutch ambassador will be summoned to the foreign ministry on Monday,” a source in the ministry told RIA Novosti state news agency.

The Netherlands said Thursday it had expelled four GRU military intelligence agents in April for an attempt to hack into the headquarters of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

At the time of the alleged plot, the OPCW was investigating the March poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English town of Salisbury.

It was also probing allegations of a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town of Douma by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Moscow.

The suspected agents were traveling on Russian diplomatic passports.

Moscow last summoned the Dutch ambassador Renée Jones-Bos along with the Swiss ambassador in September over what it called “unsubstantiated accusations” that Russian spies had attempted to hack Swiss targets.

Russia has dismissed accusations it has orchestrated a string of global cyber attacks as “spy mania”.


Dutch PM Defends Decision Not To Arrest Russian Spies

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP


Dutch agents decided not to arrest four Russians accused of plotting a cyber-attack on the world’s chemical weapons watchdog because it was “not a criminal inquiry”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

The Netherlands said Thursday it had immediately expelled the agents from GRU military intelligence in April for trying to hack the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.

But the decision has come under scrutiny after the US announced the same day that the four Russians were among seven people it had indicted over a global hacking conspiracy.

“It was an investigation in the framework of the law by the intelligence and security services. It was not a criminal inquiry,” Rutte told a weekly news conference when asked why the men were not arrested.

“The priority was not just to stop this operation… but also to obtain as much information as possible on the activity of these Russian spies,” added the Dutch premier.

No other countries had raised the issue, Rutte added.

The men entered the country on Russian diplomatic passports on April 10 and were caught red-handed on April 13 with a car full of electronic equipment in the Marriott Hotel next to the OPCW.

Britain said it had helped thwart the cyber attack targeting the wifi and passwords of the agency, which was at the time probing the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the UK.

Dutch officials said they had found a trove of evidence including an antenna, a laptop and even a taxi receipt from the GRU HQ to Moscow airport.

The men were then taken to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport where they were immediately put on a flight to Moscow.

“In accompanying them immediately to the frontier, we were also able to seize their belongings, and they were interesting to analyse. It’s for these reasons that the director of the MIVD (Dutch intelligence agency) decided” not to arrest them, ” Rutte said.

“It’s the choice he made. It’s not a criminal inquiry, it’s an espionage investigation under the intelligence services, to disrupt an espionage operation. And that’s how it happened.”

MIVD chief Major-General Onno Eichelsheim had given a similar explanation on Thursday of the decision not to arrest the men.

The US Justice Department said the seven alleged GRU members indicted on Thursday had targeted not only the OPCW but also the US Democratic Party, world footballing body FIFA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and US nuclear energy company Westinghouse.


PHOTOS: Buhari Assures Dutch Investors Of A Secured Nigeria



President Muhammadu Buhari has made an assurance to secure Nigeria so that it can attract more investors into the country.

He said “When Nigeria is safe and secure; investments will also be safe and yield handsome returns.

“You have to secure a country first before you can effectively manage it. Before businesses can thrive, security is paramount. That is why we lay so much emphasis on securing the country, Stability was the first thing in our campaigns.

He disclosed this on Monday when he met with the Chief Executive Officers of Dutch companies at The Hague, during his visit to The Netherlands.