Dutch justice minister quits over deal with drug trafficker
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The two leaders of the Dutch Security and Justice Ministry quit Monday amid a scandal over a deal made 15 years ago in which a convicted drug trafficker was paid millions of guilders by prosecutors who were actually trying to strip him of his criminal profits.
Justice and Security Minister Ivo Opstelten and his junior minister, Fred Teeven, announced their resignations hours after the ministry announced it had uncovered the exact amount — 4.7 million guilders — paid 15 years ago to the drug trafficker identified as Cees H.
The deal was done in 2000 by Teeven who was, at the time, a public prosecutor.
Opstelten, a close confidante of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, told reporters in The Hague he quit because he earlier had told lawmakers that the amount was far lower.
Teeven then said he could not stay in his position after Opstelten quit, but he defended the controversial deal, saying “there was nothing wrong with it.”
The resignations saved Rutte’s government a potentially embarrassing parliamentary debate on the issue that had been scheduled for Tuesday. They also came just over a week before provincial elections that will help determine the makeup of the Dutch senate.