Using crown witnesses a "devilish dilemma", Justice Minister says

The use of a crown witness holds definite risks for the witness and his or her family, but can also make a "decisive contribution" in the fight against organized crime, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said in a parliamentary debate. Grapperhaus called it a "devilish dilemma", RTL Nieuws reports.

The assassination of Reduan Bakkali, brother of crown witness Nabil Bakkali, clearly shows the risk involved, the Minister said. But he also emphasized that serious crime needs a tough approach. He called the recent assassination "completely unacceptable". But added that no more money will be pushed into stopping such crimes. The government already granted an extra 267 million euros for expansion and improvements at the police. And extra money has also been earmarked for combating undermining crime. 

The Public Prosecutor devotes a great deal of time to assessing the risks to crown witnesses and their relatives, Grapperhaus told the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. "That is always taken into account when deciding whether or not to make  deal."

Grapperhaus insisted that fighting the "shocking" violence in the criminal underworld is high on the agenda. He agreed that it is often young, inexperienced hired killers that are sent onto the street with easily obtained automatic firearms. The Netherlands will seek cooperation with neighboring countries Belgium and Germany to counteract this.

The Minister also expressed confidence in measures the police are taking on this front. According to Grapperhaus, "energetic" work is being done to double the penalty for the possession of automatic weapons - a measure the Kamer agreed to earlier this week. The government also wants more severe punishment for serious crimes committed in an organized context.