Els Borst's friends found body next to car
She didn't pick up the phone on Sunday, says Katrien Kroes, a friend of Els Borst who found her on Monday evening.
Els Borst's official cause of death is still a mystery. Police is considering criminal act or tragic accident, but are hoping for further clarity pending investigations today.
On Sunday afternoon, Kroes experienced a slightly unpleasant feeling, she says, looking back on the last few days. At 4 p.m. a house concert by Matangi string quartet started a little further away in Bilthoven, which has been the residence of Borst for decades.
Forty people came from all corners of the country to hear the concert, and to enjoy a glass of wine and some food. Borst would be there too. "Normally, she's always very punctual. It isn't like her not to cancel. I also called her. She didn't pick up, I left her a voicemail", Kroes said.
Kroes didn't immediately knock on Borst's door, because she is still very busy at her 81 years of age. "She's in all sorts of governing boards and foundations. Stivoro, KWF, Alpe d'HuZes, Helen Dowiing Institute. And she's busy with her family." Borst was also in good health. On Saturday, the D66 honorary member was still present at the national party congress.
But when the former minister, who introduced euthanasia laws, was a professor, vice minister and hospital director, still hadn't called back a day later, Kroes became worried. With shaking hands, she remembers the moment.
"I didn't hear back. Monday morning I'm going to my mother, she always called me in the afternoon to see how she was." At 5:58 Monday afternoon, Kroes picked up the telephone to call again, with no result.
Borst lives in a calm, green villa community in Bilthoven-Noord. Kroes got to know her through her husband, Paul Doucet. He was party leader of D66 in Bilthoven, and Borst was very active in the party. They lived a stone's throw away from each other, so th 69-year old Kroes went to inspect. Some signs for the election had just been delivered. We had them standing in the garden. At Els's house, the signs weren't there. That was unlike her."
"it was dark, the light was bad, awful weather. Lugubrious." At that moment, a friend called, with whom Kroes and Borst went nordic walking almost every week in the forests around Bilthoven. "She was also unsettled and said: I'm coming too. We went together. The front door was closed, but the garage door open. From the road, you could see something was wrong." The friends found Borst between the car and the garage of her home. Kroes doesn't want to give further details, so as not to disrupt the police investigation.
The police are ruling out a natural death. According to spokesperson Aling, this was noticeable on her body. Kroes said "maybe she felt strange and fell. Maybe she stumbled. Maybe it's a criminal act." She does not want to react to the possibility that Borst may have encountered a robber, which is what the neighbors in the area are suggesting. "Everything is possible, but I don't know. There are a lot of robberies here, that's true. A few years ago, my laptop was stolen. And later, a strange guy was standing in front of the window, who was shouting something in bad Dutch."
The police hopes to be able to offer more clarity today. Yesterday afternoon, an autopsy was done on the body. The results will be compared with the results of the forensic investigation. That comparison should make it more clear what the cause of death was with the "special and prominent" Bilthoven resident, as mayor Arjen Gerritsen said yesterday.