Slow response to Berlin terror suspect angers Dutch MPs

The Dutch prosecutor's office, OM, waited about four days to notify the cabinet that the man suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack in Berlin also spent time in the Netherlands after the incident. Dutch authorities ultimately notified Minister Ard van der Steur (Security and Justice) that the suspect, Anis Amri, traveled through the Netherlands, Van der Steur said in answer to parliamentary questions on Thursday.

Opposition parties were angered by the delay in notifying the cabinet minister, calling it an apparent lack of urgency among the Dutch authorities.

Amri is believed to be the person who drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin on December 19th. A SIM card found in his backpack after he was gunned down by Italian police in Milan led the Italian authorities to believe that he traveled through the Netherlands on his escape from Germany. The Vodafone SIM card was handed out for free in Zwolle, Breda and Nijmegen between December 20th and 22nd.. 

Van der Steur's answers to parliamentary questions on the matter revealed that the Italian authorities already contacted the Dutch Public Prosecutor to inform him that a Dutch SIM card was found on the suspected terrorist on Friday, December 23rd, according to the Volkskrant. The Prosecutor launched and investigation and requested surveillance camera footage from train stations in Zwolle and Nijmegen, where Vodafone handed out that type of SIM card for free on Wednesday, December 21st. 

The Minister of Security and Justice was only told about what was going on on Tuesday, December 27th, when Amri was found on surveillance footage at the Nijmegen station.

"The criminal investigation in the Netherlands is focused at the moment partly on determining the route Amri took to and from Nijmegen", Van der Steur said on Thursday. "Also under investigation is whether he had contact with others. There is contact with the German, French and Italian authorities."

Opposition parties in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of parliament, are concerned about the seeming lack of urgency among the Dutch authorities. The SP and CDA find it strange that it took the Prosecutor four days to inform the Minister of Security and Justice that a suspected terrorist may have traveled through the country, they said to RTL Nieuws.

"It shows again that there i insufficient control", SP parliamentarian Ronald van Raak said to the broadcaster. CDA MP Madeleine van Toorenburg added: "It shows little sense of urgency from the Prosecution that they did not report it immediately."

D66 parliamentarian Kees Verhoeven still has questions the Minister failed to answer. "Especially why terror suspects and people involved seem to travel through or to the Netherlands. After bombings in Paris and Brussels this was also the case." he said to newspaper AD.