Three arrested in the Netherlands after dna links them to Paris IS safe house

Dutch police have arrested three people after traces of their dna were found on guns in an IS hideout in France with links to the 2016 Brussels terror attacks. The three, aged 26, 30 and 54 were picked up following raids in Groningen, Rotterdam, and a hotel room in Schinnen as well as a jail cell in Zaanstad where one of the three was being held. A fourth suspect, a man from Sassenheim is already in jail for violent crime and will be questioned by police, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday. The arrests are connected to the discovery of an IS safe house in a suburb of Paris, two days after the 2016 attacks in Brussels. Explosives The apartment contained five automatic riffles, guns, 30 kilos of explosives, detonators, false passports, mobile phones and jihadic texts. The tenant, named at the time as Réda Kriket, was arrested. Shortly afterwards, a second French suspect, Anis Bahri, was arrested in Rotterdam in  a flat were more explosives were found. Those arrests led police to investigate whether or not the weapons and explosives came from the Netherlands. DNA The dna from the people now arrested in the Netherlands was found inside several guns and a sports bag in the Paris apartment, the public prosecution department said. According to the NRC, the four Dutch suspects may have provided the arms to the French jihadi cell. The arrests are further evidence of the role the Netherlands plays in illegal gun running, the paper said. The new suspects will appear in court later this week for a remand hearing.  More >

Queen Máxima speaks of 'dear, sick sister'

Queen Máxima has spoken for the first time about the death of her younger sister Inés, who committed suicide earlier this month. Máxima, who was visibly emotional, took time after her visit to the new proton cancer clinic in Groningen to make the short statement. It was her first public appearance since the death two weeks ago. The queen said how pleased she was to visit the centre, which gave hope to people with cancer. ‘My dear little, clever sister Inés was sick,’ the queen said. ‘She could not find happiness and she could not be cured. Our only comfort is that she has now, finally found peace.’ The letters and support from people ‘really helped’, the queen said, before going on to thank everyone who had shown respect for the family’s privacy at such a difficult time.  More >

Vatican loans Caravaggio to Utrecht museum

The Vatican has agreed to lend one of Caravaggio's most admired altarpieces, The Entombment of Christ, to Utrecht's Centraal Museum for a new exhibition which will open in December. It is extremely rare for the work, which is over three by two metres, to be lent to another museum and the loan has taken over a year to arrange. The painting, which dates from 1603-04, will have a key place in the new exhibition Utrecht, Carravagio and Europe which features over 60 paintings, 46 of which have never been seen in the Netherlands before. The Carravagio work will be in Utrecht for four weeks but the exhibition itself runs until March 24, before moving to the Alte Pinakothek in Munich.  More >

Youth faces maximum sentence for killing Savannah, 14

A 17-year-old youth on trial for the murder of a 14-year-old girl last year faces the maximum sentence of two years youth detention followed by treatment in a secure psychiatric unit. The public prosecution department told the court on Tuesday the youth, who was 16 at the term of the killing, is guilty of murder because his internet behaviour showed he was planning to do something to the girl before she disappeared. Savannah was found dead in a ditch on an industrial estate three days after she disappeared on her way home from school. The boy was arrested a day after her body was found. Evidence The public prosecutor says camera footage, dna traces on a soft drinks can and social media interaction showed the boy was close to the place where Savannah’s body was later found. He was also filmed on her bike and the pedals showed trace evidence of mud and water consistent with the ditch. The youth has denied killing the girl and has refused to answer questions in court. The case is being held behind closed doors because the defendant is still a minor. Two deaths Savannah disappeared at the same time as another 14-year-old girl, giving rise to fears that there could be a connection between the deaths. Last November, a 14-year-old boy was found guilty of the raped and murder of 14-year-old Romy. Both attended the same special needs school. The fact that the two girls disappeared around the same time and just 20 kilometres apart led at the time to speculation that they may have become the victims of a serial killer.  More >

Record number of kids in closed care

A record number of 2,710 children were being cared for in secure institutions last year, a rise of 8% on 2016, according to a new report by Unicef and Defence for Children. The decision to lock up a child is often 'too drastic' and the help to vulnerable children falls short in 'far too many cases', the organisations said. 'The figures have to come down,' Suzanne Laszlo, director of Unicef Nederland told NOS radio. 'No child should ever be put in a secure institution unless there is a psychiatric need to do so. And that is not always the case.' Children often end up institutionalised because of the growing waiting lists for youth social services. In addition, there is no overview of what care services are available since responsibility was decentralised to a local authority level, Laszlo said. Nevertheless, on the whole the situation facing children in the Netherlands has improved, she said. For example, improvements have been made to systems for reporting a registering child abuse and there has been a drop of 26% in the number of children held in police cells.  More >

Amsterdam's railway stations face overhaul

The government and local authorities have agreed to invest €350m overhauling Amsterdam's central station and Zuid, the station in the Zuidas business district. The money will be spent on boosting capacity so the stations can cope with far more travellers by 2030, junior transport minister Stientje van Veldhoven has announced. The plans include boosting the number of trains leaving Amsterdam CS from 34 to 57 an hour. The Alkmaar, Arnhem, Utrecht and Nijmegen routes will then have one train every 10minutes, the minister said. She has also decided to back a plan which will cut the number of platforms at CS from 15 to nine, despite criticism. International trains will then terminate at Amsterdam Zuid station, where capacity is being expanded from five to six platforms. Zuid will then be developed into an 'international hub' with fast connections to Schiphol airport as well. Travellers will then be able to take the metro to the centre of town. This 'fits the international character of Zuidas,' the minister said. Van Veldhoven has partly based her decision on forecasts which say some 500,000 people will move to the central urban Randstad area within the next 10 years. Station Zuid is already being overhauled as part of the massive Zuidasdok project, which involves putting part of the A10 ring road underground and that project includes expanding the number of platforms to six. Amsterdam CS has only recently completed a major overhaul, with new underground passageways, a road tunnel and a new bus station.  More >

MPs near agreement on CO2 target law

Negotiators acting on behalf of seven parties in parliament have reached agreement on the text of a new climate law which will set a carbon dioxide reduction target of 49% by 2030 and 95% by 2050. The four coalition parties plus the Socialists, GroenLinks and Labour, will now put the plan to MPs for their approval, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday. The concept agreement goes further than the four coalition parties set down in their plans. Final approval for the draft legislation is expected either the end of this week or early next week. The government has already decided that no new homes should be built in the Netherlands with connections to the gas network as part of measures to stop climate change.  More >