| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

Dutch PM Rutte under increased security due to threats -media

According to people acquainted with the situation, the Netherlands has increased security surrounding Prime Minister Mark Rutte after police received signs of a possible attack by criminals related to the heroin trade.

Although gun violence is uncommon in the Netherlands, as underworld figures compete for territory, homicides and violence tied to the drug trade have become more regular in recent years.

The claim in De Telegraaf was corroborated by a government source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Dutch security services have declined to comment on the report.

“Safety and protection are matters that should never be discussed in public,” Rutte told reporters when asked about the article.

Since entering office as Prime Minister almost 11 years ago, Rutte, whose conservative government has promised to crack down on organized crime, has always sought to preserve a limited amount of personal protection.

He is frequently seen cycling between his home and government facilities in The Hague, and he is frequently accosted by strangers who want to take selfies with him or converse with him.

In a sign of the increased violence in the drugs trade, a well-known Dutch crime reporter, Peter R. de Vries, was shot in broad daylight in Amsterdam in July, months after taking on the role of counsellor to the star witness in a high-profile drug case. He died of his injuries days later.

The former lawyer of the star witness had been killed in a similar fashion in front of his Amsterdam home in 2019.

Other threats to politicians are not uncommon in the Netherlands. Anti-Islam opposition leader Geert Wilders has been forced to live in a safe house and to surround himself with body guards since 2004 due to continuous death threats.

In recent months, several people around the country have been fined or handed short jail sentences for threatening ministers and lawmakers, mainly over coronavirus policies.

  • Reuters