Questions raised about king’s pardon for former tv host and cocaine smuggler
Questions have been raised by MPs and legal experts about the decision to grant a pardon to former Dutch television presenter and convicted cocaine smuggler Frank Masmeijer.
Masmeijer was a tv host with the NCRV until 1994 when he left to open a number of bars in Belgium. In 2014 a Belgian court sentenced him to nine years in an Antwerp jail for his role in a large scale cocaine smuggling operation.
He was released earlier this week from a jail in Nieuwegein where he was spending the last 18 months of his sentence.
So far, the justice ministry has refused to answer questions about the pardon, which was signed by king Willem-Alexander and legal protection minister Franc Weerwind.
VVD MP Ulysse Ellian has already said he will ask Weerwind what prompted the decision.
National police have also been questioning the move. ‘How are we to explain this to our members?,’ police union chairman Jan Struijs said. ‘We have been inundated with phone calls from police officials.
‘Hundreds of them work on clamping down on cocaine smuggling. Masmeijer was in it up to his ears and now he can just walk away from the rest of his sentence. What on earth is happening?’, Struijs told the Telegraaf.
In an interview with the paper on Wednesday Masmeijer said he was ‘gobsmacked’ when told he was free to go. ‘I told my girlfriend to put her foot on the gas in case they change their mind’, he told the paper.
He also said his sentence had been too severe and that he was pleased the king, apparently, agreed with him.
The king is the only person in a position to grant pardons, but decisions are based on the recommendation of the justice minister.
Requests for pardons run into the hundreds every year. In the first quarter of this year 191 requests were made and 26 were granted. New information about the case and poor health are among the reasons that pardons can be granted.
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