Opposition politicians are keeping up pressure on ministers over a €2.13 million deal between the public prosecution service and a drugs baron which let to the resignation of Parliamentary chairwoman Anouchka van Miltenburg at the weekend.
Van Miltenburg stepped down a day after agreeing to face questions from her colleagues about an anonymous letter giving details of the deal which was shredded by her colleagues.
She is the third member of prime minister Mark Rutte’s VVD party to quit their jobs over the scandal. In March justice minister Ivo Opstelten and his deputy, Fred Teeven, resigned when a receipt confirming the full amount of the payment came to light. Teeven brokered the deal with drugs lord Cees H. in 2000, when he was a public prosecutor.
Rutte, justice minister Ad van der Steur and junior justice minster Klaas Dijkhoff are expected to come under fire on Wednesday when parliament debates the issue, the AD reported
A poll by Maurice de Hond at the weekend found that 70% of voters questioned believe Rutte misled Parliament over the issue and just over half (51%) thought the prime minister should resign.
Sybrand Buma, leader of the Christian Democrat party, said he respected Van Miltenburg’s ‘personal decision’ but added: ‘The chairwoman played only a marginal role in a larger political isue. The most important aspect is that for years parliament was inadequately, and possibly wrongly, informed by the cabinet.’
D66 group leader Alexander Pechtold added: ‘The main responsibility in accounting for the circumstances surrounding the deal with drugs criminal Cees H. lies with the cabinet, not the chairman of parliament.’
Rutte was criticised last week for suggesting that there may have been obligations on H under the terms of the agreement. The drugs baron’s lawyer said any quid pro quo deal could compromise his client’s personal safety.
Van Miltenburg’s resignation came after an independent inquiry sharply criticised the way the deal was constructed by Teeven and handled by ministers. Neither Teeven’s superiors nor the Dutch tax authority were fully informed of the deal.
Parliament was initially told the deal was for a sum of two million guilders. The sum of 4.7 million guilfrtd only came to light following inquiries by TV current affairs show Nieuwsuur.
Van Miltenburg admitted she had shredded a letter from a whistleblower within the justice ministry giving details of the deal, as well as a copy of the letter that was handed to her by a journalist from Nieuwsuur researching the story.
Announcing her resignation on Saturday she said: ‘The strong words of the Oosting commission and the continuing discussion around me personally are too damaging to the office of chairman.’
Her departure leaves an awkward question surrounding her successor. Deputy chairwoman Khadija Arib will step in to the role temporarily until parliament has elected a new chairwoman. Arib has come under fire in the past from Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party (PVV) over her dual Moroccan-Dutch nationality.
Another potential candidate is Van Miltenburg’s other deputy, PVV member Martin Bosma.
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