Pressure mounts on defence minister over botched rescue

Pressure is mounting again on defence minister Hans Hillen following more revelations around the botched mission to rescue a Dutch civil engineer from Libya, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.

The attempt to bring out the man led to the crew of an army helicopter being picked up and held by the Libyan authorities for nearly two weeks.
It now transpires that the mission was started before military intelligence staff had become involved. Although military command on the frigate HMS Tromp asked the MIVD for advice, the mail went unanswered because fewer people work on Sunday.
It was only later on Sunday night, after the crew had been arrested, that the MIVD was alerted by the defence ministry, the paper says.
MPs also have many questions about other aspects of the operation. For example, they want to know how the Libyan authorities became aware of the mission before the helicopter landed.
They also want to know more about the role of the Swedish woman. She was apparently told about the helicopter trip by her son who works for the Swedish foreign ministry and was held by Libyan soldiers when she arrived at the pick-up destination. The Dutch helicopter crew was not expecting her.
The Volkskrant says opposition MPs are now losing confidence in Hillen and expect to give him a tough time during next week’s debate.
‘Parts of the defence ministry are working without any communication with each other and the cabinet is sending 200 people to a dangerous place on the orders of a minister who cannot judge the importance of crucial information,’ Alexander Pechtold, leader of D66, said.
The Netherlands is sending 200 military staff and six fighter jets to take part in monitoring the Nato no-fly zone and weapons embargo against Libya.

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