Airport jail boss knew of fire risk

The director of the deportation centre at Schiphol airport knew in 2004 that a large number of people would die if fire broke out, justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told MPs yesterday.

Hirsch Ballin initially denied that the director had been aware of a report criticising safety standards at the centre but changed his mind six hours into the parliamentary debate yesterday. The minister said it was ‘unacceptable’ that civil servants had withheld the information from him and promised to present an explanation to MPs next week. Eleven people died in the fire last October.

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