Dutch princess security threat raises crime fears

Dutch Crown Princess Amalia
Dutch Crown Princess Amalia. (Photo: Twitter)
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Crown Princess Amalia has been forced to abandon plans to live in student digs for security reasons, in a move that raised fresh fears on Friday about organized crime in the Netherlands.اضافة اعلان

King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima announced late on Thursday — just weeks after the 18-year-old started at Amsterdam University — that Amalia will have to stay behind palace walls.

Officials would not confirm details, but the move comes weeks after reports that Amalia and Prime Minister Mark Rutte were mentioned in communications by organized crime groups, which led to fears of kidnappings.

Her mother said the move has "enormous consequences" for her daughter, while it has come as a shock in a country where public figures often move around with little protection.

Experts say it has reinforced fears that the Netherlands is becoming a "narco-state" following a high-profile series of cases involving drug trafficking groups.

"It's about an 18-year-old girl who can't have a student life because she's apparently the target of the Mocro-mafia," said Rick Evers, a Dutch reporter specializing in royal matters.

Named after their Moroccan roots, the Mocro-mafia are crime gangs specializing in the Netherlands' budding drug trade, particularly cocaine, and are mainly based in Amsterdam.

'Enormous consequences'
The heir to the Dutch throne was captured beaming by photographers when she started at university last month, with much made of the fact that she planned to live in student accommodation.

But, in an unusually candid admission during a state visit to Sweden on Thursday, the Dutch king, 55, and queen, 51, revealed that Amalia had been forced to remain at the heavily-guarded royal palace in The Hague.

Asked how Amalia was doing as a student, a clearly emotional Queen Maxima said "you must have heard the news".

"She can't live in Amsterdam and she can't really go outside (the palace)... It has enormous consequences on her life," Maxima said.

Premier Rutte ­— until recently often seen riding a bike around The Hague — described Amalia's situation as "terrible and worrisome".

"Everything is being done to keep the crown princess safe," he told reporters on Friday.

Dutch Justice and Security Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius described organized crime as a "fundamental problem", adding that her ministry was "working hard day and night to ensure her security".

But the news did not come out of a vacuum.

In September, De Telegraaf, one of the Netherlands' top newspapers, reported that security had been significantly tightened around Amalia and Rutte. It said both of them had appeared in organized crime communications, which may indicate plans for an attack or kidnapping.

At the same time, Dutch newspapers reported increased scrutiny on the communications of alleged "Mocro-Mafia" chief Ridouan Taghi, who is on trial in the Netherlands, with his gang linked to several high-profile murders.

The murders include that of prominent journalist Peter de Vries, who was gunned down in broad daylight in an Amsterdam street last year, and Derk Wiersum, a defense lawyer for a prosecution witness.

'Abnormal situation'
The developments have reinforced fears that Europe's fifth-largest economy was gradually tilting towards a narco-state, with criminals exploiting the country's relaxed drug policies to ship masses of cocaine through Europe's largest port in Rotterdam.

Royal reporter Evers, who was with the Dutch king and queen on Thursday when they made the shock revelation, was also there when Amalia started at university to enroll for a bachelor's degree in Psychology, Politics, and Law.

"We saw there was a very large increase in the number of security guards, both visible and invisible, with heavy weapons hidden in bags," Evers said.

"It was a very abnormal and unusual situation," he told AFP. "Organized crime is now an important theme which seems out of control in the Netherlands."

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