Chemical Weapons Maastricht

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One of four suspects allegedly involved in the trade of hazardous substances is also suspected of ''the possession of chemical weapons.'' This said lawyer Theo Bouwmans on Tuesday when his client was brought to court along with three others supposedly in a plot related to sarin nerve gas.

The presiding judge looked on Tuesday if there was enough evidence to keep the  four suspects, two men and two women, in pre-trial detention. The four were arrested last Saturday on suspicion of "possession of a prohibited substance, and burying" the material in a field outside Maastricht.

The pre-trial detention of the two men, aged 21 and 52 years, was lengthened, and they will be held in jail for at least 14 more days while the criminal investigation continues.

The two women could be released on Friday. The judge has decided that the pre-trial detention of the two women, aged 33 and 53 year, will not be lengthened due to a lack of evidence. The Public Prosecutions Department (OM) is still considering an appeal against the decision that ruling.

The Public Prosecutions Department (OM) has strong leads that the four suspects have had the dangerous nerve gas in their possession. All searches and excavations so far were not successful in recovering any gas. The police will continue to guard the excavation area in the Maastricht district of Amby. According to a spokesman of the OM, this is maintained during the investigation in case one of the suspects reveals new information.

A TNO laboratory in Rijswijk (Zuid Holland) maintains a small quantity of the poisonous gas on behalf of the Ministry of Defense. The laboratory tests for the material on gas masks, detectors and military uniforms. The lab in Rijswijk is the only place where  Sarin is legally kept in the Netherlands, and it is under the supervision of the UN organisation OPCW which looks after the dismantling of chemical weapons.

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