The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The Hague tribunal finds Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity

The United Nations Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague has sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity between 1992 and 1995, during the Yugoslavia civil war. In particular, the court found that Mladic was guilty of 'genocide and persecution, extermination, murder, and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995'. Some 8,000 men and boys in the town were massacred when it was over-run by Mladic's forces in 1995. Srebrenica was under the protection of Dutch UN troops at the time. ‘Circumstances were brutal; those who tried to defend their homes were met with ruthless force. Mass executions occurred and some victims succumbed after being beaten. Many of the perpetrators who had captured Bosnian Muslims, showed little or no respect for human life or dignity,’ said presiding judge Alphons Orie. Mladic was removed from the courtroom half way through the verdict after calling for the tribunal’s findings to be either halted or speeded up because of his high blood pressure. When the court refused to agree, he began screaming and was taken to another room where he was able to follow proceedings. Mladic was arrested and brought to the Netherlands in 2011. His trial has taken 530 days spread over more than four years, it heard 591 witnesses and examined nearly 10,000 pieces of evidence concerning 106 crimes. Dutch foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra said: 'I welcome the ruling against Ratko Mladic. The war in Yugoslavia and the crimes in Srebrenica have left irreversible scars. I hope this verdict helps the next of kin to deal with their loss and suffering.' Wednesday's verdict helps close one of the most painful chapters in Dutch post war military history, but several other court cases involving the Dutch courts are still ongoing. Srebrenica This June, the Dutch state was found partly liable for the death of over 300 Muslim men who died in the massacre of Srebrenica by appeal court judges in The Hague. The 300 men and boys were inside the Dutch military base in the Muslim enclave when it was over-run by Bosnian Serb forces and now the Dutch state must pay their relatives compensation, the court said. However, the Netherlands was not found to be responsible for the death of 7,000 plus other men and boys who were outside the compound. The court said it would have been impossible for Dutch soldiers to have protected them when the Bosnian Serb forces began to round them up. Dutch soldiers Meanwhile, some 180 more Dutch army veterans have joined the fight for compensation from the state for sending them on ‘an impossible mission’ in Srebrenica. The soldiers were serving in the Dutch battalion Dutchbat III to protect the Muslim enclave. The veterans claim the Dutch government could have known the mission was impossible to execute and say the outside world has blamed them for not being able to prevent the massacre. This has caused them social, emotional and financial damage for which they now seek compensation. Read the complete tribunal ruling (in English)  More >

European Medicines agency will bring jobs

Dutch pensioners arrested smuggling 100 kilos of hashish into Norway The relocation of the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam will generate millions of euros in extra income for the Dutch economy, according to economists from ING. The 890 workers will have an estimated €45m in net salaries to spend and much of that will benefit local shops, service providers, bars and restaurants, ING says. In addition, housing the EMA workers will bring in €10m to €15m while the 30,000 overnight stays which EMA visitors will book will generate €4m for the hotel sector. The Financieele Dagblad says experts suggest the EU agency will provide work for 1,500 people working in catering, cleaning, security, childcare and teaching. In addition, some 200 of the agency’s 890 staff are not expected to travel to Amsterdam, so EMA will also have to recruit on the ground. Specialised lawyers, patent specialists and consultants are also expected to move to Amsterdam to be close to the organisation, and pharmaceuticals firms are likely to also open offices. There may also be a knock-on effect on research. Biotech Annemiek Verkamman, the director of the association of biotech companies HollandBIO, told the paper the Netherlands is already a leader in the field of biotech. ‘The arrival of the EMA dovetails with our ambition of becoming the Boston of Europe,’ she said. Ruud Smits, a consultant with the law firm NautaDutilh, said the arrival of EMA ‘It fits in with the aim of creating a biotech-pharma hub in the Netherlands around Leiden, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Wageningen.’ There are, he said, already 24,000 people working on the development of medicines in the Netherlands. Since Organon closed down, no major pharmaceutical companies are headquartered in the Netherlands, the FD pointed out. However, companies like Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co and Teva do have large operations here. Financial markets Meanwhile, London based financial trader NEX Group said earlier this week it had chosen to make Amsterdam its continental hub if the Brexit negotiators don’t work out a deal which protects London’s financial sector. According to website,Amsterdam is emerging as the new centre for fixed-income trading. Market.Axess and Tradeweb are also relocating to the Dutch capital. The move makes sense, said, because the Netherlands ‘has a robust trading culture and its regulator is seen as competent and approachable’.  More >

CNV warns about EU bus tender plans

Dutch pensioners arrested smuggling 100 kilos of hashish into Norway European plans to force the Netherlands to fully liberalise bus services will push down driver pay and leave rural parts of the country without public transport, trade union federation CNV has told the AD. Brussels wants to open the European bus market to all-comers, without including a requirement to operate loss-making routes, the CNV says. This, the country's second biggest union federation says, means that remote villages could be left without buses, as foreign firms take over money-making routes but don't use their profits to subside loss-making services. 'Bus firms such as Flixbus, Ouibus and Eurolines will be able to cherry pick from the Dutch public transport market,' spokesman Sanne van der Meulen told the AD. Brussels is creating a 'race to bottom' which will hurt both Dutch drivers and passengers, Van der Meulen said. The CNV wants parliament, which is due to debate the issue on Wednesday, to reject Brussels' plans. Brussels is due to debate the issue next month. A spokesman for Dutch regional bus firm Connexxion told the AD: 'The Dutch market is already extremely competitive and we need to retain a level playing field.' Breaking up services even more will not benefit the consumer, the spokesman said.  More >

Amsterdam gears up to settle 900 EMA staff

Dutch pensioners arrested smuggling 100 kilos of hashish into Norway The news that Amsterdam will host the European Medicines Agency when it leaves London after Brexit has been widely welcomed for its impact on both the Netherlands' reputation as a location to do business and the likely knock-on effect on employment. Nevertheless, there are considerable issues to solve within the 16 months set aside for the move, officials warn. The decision 'marks the official start of a challenging joint relocation project that will have to be delivered within extremely tight deadlines... and completed by March 30, 2019,' the London-based body said after the result of the European ministers' vote was announced. In particular, the EMA has a workforce of some 890, most of whom will move to the Dutch capital and will need suitable housing. EMA workers also have 600 plus children under the age of 18, many of whom will need to be found places at international schools and daycare centres. The Amsterdam bid included a commitment to implement a relocation plan with a dedicated team of experts to help staff make the move. The city has already guaranteed that the children of EMA staff will have access to international education and that 'housing in the different segments is readily available.' It is unclear, as yet, how the city, already grappling with a shortage of affordable homes, will cope with the new influx. Mike Russell, director of housing group Principle Vastgoed told that supply in the city is already short and the budgets available to the EMA staffers will drive everything, which ever segment they are looking in. 'If they have €1,800 plus to spend, that is going to put upward pricing pressure on the market,' he said. 'Amsterdam pitched itself as a great place to live and everyone who makes the move here is coming for the Amsterdam experience, not the Almere experience.' Purpose built office The EMA will first be housed in temporary offices before moving to a purpose-built building in Amsterdam's Zuidas district next to the EY offices. The building will be some 80 metres high with 19 floors and will cost between €250m and €300m to build. The tab for the new building, named Vivaldi, is being picked up by the Dutch government which will rent it to the EMA for the market rate. The government is also providing an €18m sweetener to help pay for the move. Zuidas director David van Traa says the arrival of the EMA will further boost the district's profile as a top location to do business. In addition, he said, 'the many international workers and visitors will undoubtably contribute to making Zuidas a more lively place as it moves from being a business district to a unique new district of Amsterdam where you can live and work.'  More >

Amsterdam wins European Medicines Agency

Dutch pensioners arrested smuggling 100 kilos of hashish into Norway Amsterdam has succeeded in its bid to host the European Medicines Agency when the organisation leaves London following Brexit. European ministers in Brussels backed the Dutch offer after three rounds of voting on Monday evening. Both Amsterdam and Milan were level pegging with 13 votes each in the final round, leaving the EU's current president Estonia to draw lots to decide the winner. The Netherlands had lobbied hard to win the agency, but former finance minister Wouter Bos, who led the Dutch bid, had rated the Dutch chances of winning as 'small'. Foreign affairs minister Halbe Zijlstra, who was in Brussels for the voting, described the news as 'fantastic' in a Twitter message. 'It is great for the Netherlands and great for Dutch citizens who can continue to count on good medicines and good control of those medicines,' he said. 'It shows that we can deal decisively with the effects of Brexit.' New offices A survey of agency staff in October showed that up to 70% would leave if the EMA went to an unpopular choice among the 19 cities competing to host the organisation.  Amsterdam, Barcelona and Vienna reportedly topped the list. Amsterdam's pitch to persuade the EMA to relocate to the Dutch capital included the promise of a new purpose-built office building in the city’s Zuidas business district. The Dutch government said it would finance a €250m to €300m building for the EMA, which would then pay the market rate for the space. The Dutch government also offered an €18m sweetener and a full relocation package for the agency’s 900 staff. The Netherlands already hosts two European institutions – Europol and Eurojust. 900 staff The EMA is a decentralised agency of the EU, which began operations in 1995 and is responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines developed by pharmaceutical companies for use in the EU. The agency has a workforce of some 900 people, mainly highly skilled, from all over Europe. Lille, Brussels, Copenhagen Stockholm, Dublin, Barcelona and Milan were among the other cities hoping to attract the EMA. The Dutch promo film supporting the bid included mention of queen Maxima's wardrobe, fish and chips and children saying hello in English. You may comment on this story using the section below or via our Facebook page.  More >