Utrecht alderman suspected in pot crime ring

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A VVD City Council Member of Wijk bij Duurstede in Utrecht may end up in discredit over his  alleged involvement in a weed plantation in the city, AD.nl reported today.

The newspaper writes that at least two witnesses have given incriminating statements against Carel van Gelder, who they say promised to pay them to stay quiet about his involvement. The witnesses are spilling because Van Gelder did not pay up as promised.

The weed plantation was started in 2010 in Arnhem, but closed a year later after a police raid. Some 822 plants were found; one man was arrested, but he stayed quiet about Van Gelder’s role. He now says the politician had started the plantation together with a friend in hopes of quick earnings.

The witnesses allege that it was Van Gelder who proposed the idea for the weed plantation and then financed it. The man who was arrested has meanwhile been served a €100,000 claim for damages by the owner of the building in which the plantation was located. He is also looking at a prison sentence.

Van Gelder, who is also deputy Mayor for Wijk bij Duurstede, has said in a statement that he will not react to the matter as it is still being investigated. He claimed his only role was that of witness. “I am a witness in a criminal case that is in front of a Judge. This is a private matter that has no bearings on my performance as alderman for Wijk bij Duurstede; and of course I have already informed the Council that this going on,” he wrote.

The Council has also declined to comment. “As far as we know Mr. Van Gelder is only involved as a witness,” a spokesman said. The Council was set to discuss the matter this afternoon.