'Netherlands involved in secret transports of British prisoners'

18 May 2009

'Netherlands involved in secret transports of British prisoners'

It has emerged that the air carrier ArkeFly last year left 241 tourists stranded at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport in order to make a more lucrative flight possible. The flight in question was a secret British transport of prisoners suspected of terrorism. This was uncovered by SP member of Parliament Emile Roemer, who is trying to get to the bottom of why the unfortunate passengers have been refused compensation.

Profit-making, and not the 'fleet technical problems' advanced in explanation, appears to have been the real reason why ArkeFly, at the end of last year, left 241 passengers waiting at Schiphol for fifteen hours. On the same day, ArkeFly had hired out its already booked-up aircraft to the British authorities, which used it to carry out a secret transport of prisoners from London to the Caribbean. Emile Roemer is the SP's specialist on transport issues, but what began as a straightforward matter of consumers' rights acquired, as this reallocation was revealed, a somewhat piquant aftertaste.

Emile RoemerRoemer: “The British flight was, on paper, an ordinary service flight by a Dutch aircraft under a Dutch number, and thus under Dutch jurisdiction. It is suspected that on board were twenty-six prisoners and upwards of a hundred guards. We have indications that the prisoners were suspected terrorists. This of course raises a lot of questions."

Roemer has asked transport minister Camiel Eurlings for his comments on the flight, Flight OR361 from Schiphol to Curaçao, on 25th November 2008. However, the minister informed him in a report that the delay to passengers was just that, a delay, and that this confers no right to compensation. The reply and the 'research' that went into it, was "worthless", in Roemer's view. "It was based on nothing but an exchange of letters with ArkeFly, and there was no real enquiry. The minister's report is full of demonstrable errors and lies. Despite knowing long before the day of the flight that the aircraft had been hired out, ArkeFly did not hire a replacement plane. The minister's fake investigation means that the passengers have been doubly cheated.”

Roemer intends to summon Eurlings before Parliament to explain himself. “If someone quite consciously ruins the holidays of more than a hundred people you can't simply go along with that. The minister must intervene in this so that airlines can't even consider treating passengers in this way. Moreover, I want to know what sort of shadowy practices go on when Dutch aircraft are hired out to foreign authorities.”

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