Amsterdam station stabber is an Afghan man, terrorist motive not ruled out


The man shot yesterday after he stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam's central station is an Afghan national and police are investigating a possible terrorist motive for the attack, according to a joint statement issued by police, the public prosecution department and city officials. The 19-year-old has a German residency permit. He was shot in the ‘lower part of his body’ by police after stabbing two people in a tunnel under the city’s main railway station. There has been ‘intensive contact’ with the German authorities over the suspect’s background, the statement said. The initial investigation shows the victims do not appear to have been deliberately chosen and there was no apparent reason behind the stabbing. Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus confirmed that a terrorist motive is among the scenarios being looked at. The stabbing took place on Friday around midday and disrupted train and local transport services for several hours. The American embassy in the Netherlands confirmed on Saturday that the victims are American nationals. 'We are aware that both victims were US citizens visiting the Netherlands and have been in touch with them or their families. We wish them a speedy recovery and are working closely with the city of Amsterdam to provide assistance to them and their families,' Pete Hoekstra, the US ambassador to the Netherlands said in a statement on Twitter. The two victims are not in any serious danger and are being treated in hospital.  More >



Missing cyber expert may have boarded ship

Cyber security expert Arjen Kamphuis may have smuggled himself aboard a freighter which left for Stavanger from Rognan around the time of his disappearance, the AD reported at the weekend. Rognan locals say a freighter left the town around August 20, when Kamphuis disappeared and police have confirmed this is one of the leads they are following up, the AD said. Some of Kamphuis’ things were found near the coastal town, among which his collapsible canoe and his identity papers. Kamphuis had been staying in nearby Bodo at the time. Police said earlier that Kamphuis’ mobile telephone had been turned on on August 30 in the vicinity of Vikeså, about 50k from Stavanger in Norway. The device remained active for 20 minutes after which a German sim card was put in it. Kamphuis’ girlfriend Ancilla van der Leest, told the Telegraaf:‘It sounds improbable but then everything about this story is improbable. He did tell me sometimes half-jokingly that if the Apocalypse came he could always make his getaway on a freight ship.’ The hunt for Kamphuis, 47, has been conducted by a police team known as Kripos, who specialise in organised crime and disappearances, Norwegian police said in a press release. According to Dutch media he is an expert in cyber security who advises governments, journalists and human rights experts.  More >


Catholic bishops covered up abuse: NRC

More than half of the Netherlands Catholic bishops and cardinals were aware of cases of sexual abuse between 1945 and 2010, the NRC reported at the weekend, on the basis of its own research. The paper accuses the Church of covering up the abuse, allowing the perpetrators to make more victims after making an inventory of the known and less-well know abuse cases which have come to light since 2010. It linked lists of names of church officials to sources of information about the abuse, including the abuse hotline and the official government commission. Among the conclusions: four of the 39 cardinals, bishops and assistant bishops named by the NRC had themselves abused children and 16 had moved paedophile priests to other parishes where they went on to abuse again. None are still active within the church and all the cases are too old to be prosecuted, the paper said. The church told the paper in a statement that the story by and large is accurate. Since the abuse scandal broke in 2010/2011, the church has taken many preventative measures, including double checks on priest credentials, the statement said. For a full list of the cases, see the NRC Scope In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010 and the cost of dealing with the eight-year scandal could be as much as €60m, officials said at the end of last year. Of all the reported cases to the hotline, 2,062 became official complaints and 1,002 cases were declared justified. Several hundred were not accepted because of a lack of supporting evidence. In 941 cases, the victims were given financial compensation, taking total payouts to €28.6m. Sixty-five victims who went through the most serious forms of abuse were given the maximum payout of €100,000. Secret deals The NRC said at the time, the real bill to the Catholic church is far higher. It says 403 victims reached secret deals with the church authorities, and received an estimated €12.8m in compensation. At least 800 Catholic priests and monks were involved in abusing children in their care between 1945 and 1985, according to a comprehensive report into the church sexual abuse scandal published on December 16, 2011. Disappearing churches Meanwhile, the AD reports that the Catholic church is disappearing from the Netherlands at high speed. Archbishop Wim Eijk told the Gelderlander in an interview he expects just 10 to 15 churches to remain open for mass in the Utrecht region alone. There are currently 280 churches in the Utrecht diocese. The number of people visiting Catholic churches is declining by 5% to 6% a year as the population ages. Although the Netherlands officially has 3.5 million Catholics, few are regular churchgoers and the average number of attendees at mass has fallen to 173,500 in total, according to figures from Nijmegen research group Kaski.  More >



16 year-old fires shots at school

Shots were fired by a 16 year-old boy in and outside a school in Roermond on Friday morning, police said. No one was hurt in the incident. The shooting took place at 8.30am at the KEC institute for special education and care in the Limburg city. According to a witness the boy, who was reportedly armed with an axe and other weapons, aimed a gun at teachers. ‘He then came out and walked up to a boy he had a dispute with. The he started shooting and the police were called,’ the girl, a pupil at the school, told local news platform 1Limburg. Police said they think the row between the boys is at the bottom of what happened. They praised the teachers who kept talking to the boy until officers could detain him. The school is organising a meeting on Saturday for parents, local authorities and victim support to discuss the incident. According to mayor Rianne Donders- de Leest everyone is fine but 'this sort of thing has an impact,' she told broadcaster NOS.   More >



Woman arrested after cyclist dies in crash

Police suspect a woman who knocked down a cyclist before fleeing into a nearby house was under the influence of drugs. The victim of the crash, a 20-year-old woman, died at the scene after police were unable to revive her. The accident happened at around 3.40am on Sunday in Straatsburglaan in Sittard. Witnesses told 1Limburg the victim was dragged underneath the car after being hit before the driver sped away. The 43-year-old driver was arrested soon afterwards in a house about 150 metres away in Betuwestraat. Police said she gave an alcohol reading of 0.7 millilitres per litre of blood in a breath test. The legal limit is 0.5. A blood test was taken to see if she was under the influence of sedatives, 1Limburg reported.   More >



Nicky Verstappen suspect back in NL

Statue of justice. Jos Brech, the survivalist suspected of murdering 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen 20 years ago, was taken to a police station in Eindhoven for questioning on Friday morning. Brech arrived back in the Netherlands on Thursday evening. He was brought back ina small aircraft which landed at Schiphol airport at around 5pm. RTL Nieuws reports that he will be questioned by a senior judge on Friday to decide if he should be remanded in custody. Brech, who did not fight his extradition from Spain, will be accompanied by his lawyer Gerald Roethof, RTL said. B was arrested in Spain on August 26, just a few days after police announced that his DNA had been found on the boy's body. Roethof told reporters he would first try to lift some of the restrictions imposed on the case. Currently Brech can only talk to his lawyer who he is banned from talking about the case. 'The case is so old and so much is in the public domain, [Verstappen's]  family can talk about the case and yet I am not allowed to,' Roethof said.     More >


MPs say ING settlement is not enough

MPs from across the political spectrum want to know why no ING staffers face criminal proceedings for their role in the money laundering scandal which led to the bank paying a fine of €755m in an out-of-court settlement. The bank was fined for laxity in checking suspicious transactions between 2010 and 2016, which, prosecutors say, led to millions of euros of euros being laundered. Roald van der Linde, an MP for the right-wing Liberal VVD, said it is incomprehensible that the only punishment is that bankers will lose their bonuses. It is shareholders and bank clients who are picking up the bill, the Telegraaf quotes him as saying. Labour MP Henk Nijboer told the paper that he too thinks workers should face charges. 'Simply handing in bonuses is no punishment,' he said. In particular, senior ING executives should stand down, he said. Socialist MP Michiel van Nispen said he wants to prevent staff avoiding retribution in the future and said such cases should always be taken to court. 'Mega settlements should always be put to a judge and there should always be a criminal investigation,' he told the Telegraaf. Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra  has asked the bank for more details about this 'extremely serious case'. He has already discussed the scandal with the Dutch central bank but his spokesman declined to give further details. The Dutch bank association NVB said it is concerned about the impact on the reputation of the financial services sector. 'Media focus on things that go wrong at banks are not good for restoring confidence in the sector,' chairman Chris Buijink told broadcaster NOS. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Rabobank has been under fire for its role in the Libor interest rate scandal while ING was forced to back down in a row over a massive pay rise for chief executive Ralph Hamers. ABN Amro too became embroiled in a row over pay. Research last November showed the Dutch public still does not have much confidence in banks, although the figure rose slightly to 2.9 (out of 5) this year from 2.8 in 2016.  More >