Prisoners in high-security jail in Vught to be tried on site to reduce transport risk

Vught high-security jail in Noord-Brabant. Photo: Mystro82/Wikipedia
Vught high-security jail in Noord-Brabant. Photo: Mystro82/Wikipedia

A courtroom is being built in the Netherlands’ highest security jail in Vught to allow suspects to be tried without leaving the compound, legal protection minister Franc Weerwind has announced.

The €15 million facility will reduce the need to transport prisoners to the ‘Bunker’, the reinforced courthouse on an industrial estate in Amsterdam, as well as the risk of escape attempts or attacks by underworld rivals.

‘Delivering justice within the walls of the penal institution in Vught allows us to improve the safety of our society,’ Weerwind wrote in a letter to parliament. No date has been set for when the courtroom will be finished.

Vught already has the facilities for examining magistrates to hold preliminary hearings on site, but the new arrangement will enable judges to preside over full trials.

The courtroom will also have space for members of the public and journalists to attend cases, but Weerwind said this would be limited because of the restricted space. A suitable location within the jail still needs to be identified.

The plan is also a response to concerns by the mayor of the Noord-Brabant town, Roderick van de Mortel, about the impact on local traffic caused by convoys of high-speed vehicles taking prisoners to and from court cases.

‘This is extremely important for the security of everyone involved in prisoner transport. Not just in Vught, but in the municipalities that the suspects are being taken to,’ the mayor said.

Weerwind and justice minister Dilan Yesilgöz also want to restrict contact between prisoners and the outside world by reducing the number of visitors allowed per week from three to one and only permitting one 10-minute phone call a week, rather than three.

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