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VVD mayors see ‘breakthrough’ in law

VNG chairman and The Hague mayor Van Zanen (VVD) and colleagues are positive about State Secretary Van der Burg’s bill.

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Supervisor AFM: still too much vague language in green investing

Investors who want to invest sustainably often do not receive the information to which they are legally entitled. Anyone offering investment products is required by law to provide a good explanation of how ‘green’ they are. Such information is usually there, but often not very concrete, difficult to understand, or sometimes even contradictory.

These conclusions come from the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), which investigated compliance with transparency rules on sustainability in the financial sector. Banks, insurers, pension funds, asset managers and investment funds were investigated, among others.

Although the law requires precise information, the AFM still sees a lot of ‘vague language’ and ‘repetitions of the same texts’. The information is also ‘often general’, making it unclear to investors whether the information relates to a specific investment product or to the company as a whole. Sometimes the information that can be found is even “contradictory”.

The AFM is not going to enforce it immediately, but wants to ‘discuss it’ with the sectors. What matters, the regulator says, is that the legislation is relatively young: since March last year, these institutions have had to comply with the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). Before this regulation, it was even more difficult for investors to understand just how ‘green’ their investment is. Banks and investors each had their own method and reports on the sustainability of their product.

greenwashing

Although compliance with the current rules still leaves something to be desired, even stricter rules are on the way. As of 1 January 2023, even more specific requirements will apply about what financial players must say about their sustainable products. For example, it becomes mandatory to state which percentages of the investments meet sustainable criteria.

Green investing is a huge growth market. Many investors like to make sustainable investments, says Natalie Aartsen, head of the Lending, Savings and Retail Investing department at the AFM. “But they often didn’t know what to look for. More than For example, 30 percent even went off alone on things like the name of a fund, or how green the website is.”

Also read: Regulator: prospectuses ‘sustainable’ investment funds too vague

An important caveat to the new rules is that investors are still not sure whether their investment is really ‘green’. The AFM did not investigate whether the sustainable claims about investments are actually fulfilled in practice. The regulation only concerns the question of whether there is sufficient and clear information about investment products on the website.

In practice, there are still few rules for the financial sector to greenwashing (with companies making hollow green claims). “Another factor is that there are few international agreements about what we actually mean by sustainability,” says Zoë du Chattel, supervisor at the AFM. “Everyone has their own ideas about what sustainability is exactly. For example, some countries see nuclear energy as something sustainable, while others do not see it at all.”

Dark green

A new, different regulation is a tentative step in this direction. This concerns the European Taxonomy Regulation that has recently entered into force in part. This provides a list of criteria with which institutions can determine which part of their investments is ‘environmentally sustainable’. But institutions can also call investments sustainable without meeting these criteria, provided they provide an explanation. The AFM saw that organizations are often not yet able to indicate whether they are investing in accordance with this Regulation.

Despite the loopholes in the current legislation, the AFM does see some shifts, says Du Chattel. “Last year we saw that many investment funds called themselves ‘dark green’, in other words, claimed that they were fully focused on sustainability. We saw that some of their investment products turned out not to live up to that at all, so we were critical of that. It now appears that a significant proportion of those funds have adjusted that claim. They now know that you cannot just say that you are pursuing very sustainable goals.”

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A blackhead until the death of the host follows

Many people’s mouths water when they are presented with shrimp, lobster or crab. With a portion of woodlice you do them much less of a favor.

Somehow that is strange, because those are also crustaceans (Crustacea). The woodlice we encounter in our gardens and cellars are sea creatures that have crawled onto land and are called land woodlice, or Oniscidea. Although they no longer live in water, they do depend on a relatively high humidity, because they still have gills to breathe with. But this tidbit won’t change the common belief that woodlice is unappetizing. It also sounds a bit dirty: woodlice.

Yet there are creatures that do like it and are so dependent on it that the young would rather starve to death than eat anything else. I am talking about woodlice flies (Rhinophoridae), such as the black woodlice fly, Melanophora roralis. This is a slender fly with some protruding thick hairs on the body. As the Dutch name suggests, the animal is black. If it’s a man. Female specimens have beautiful light-colored wing tips and are therefore easy to identify. The men are also easy to spot, but rather by their typical dance flights, which they perform in small formations. On sunlit vertical walls or logs, each man describes backwards or forwards parachuting arcs, landing alternately left or right. A woman who finds this ballet attractive comes to mate. She then looks for suitable places to lay her eggs. That is not just a crack or crevice in a wall or trunk, but a space along a walkway that a group of woodlice uses at night. That path has a certain smell, which the fly catches rubbing its legs and trembling with its wings. This is where she needs to be. If there are also woodlice, they are ignored; maybe they don’t smell nice or an egg is safer from a distance.

He is being gnawed inside

When a young maggot crawls out of an egg laid along such a path, it must see that it finds a suitable food source. He stands up straight, clings to the bottom with the end of his abdomen and turns around searching around that support point. When a woodlice walks past it, it grabs onto it with the head and works its way between two body segments to penetrate the host’s body. Or hostess, because a well-filled lady with a forming brood pouch is much more nutritious than a relatively thin male woodlice.

Once inside, the fly larva feeds on the body fluid and – initially – some juicy non-vital organs, such as ovarioles where the woodlice eggs could have developed. The woodlice just lives on. Inside he is gnawed until the fly youngster is so big that he needs even more food and also consumes the vital organs. Of course, the victim will not survive. Inside the corpse the maggot pupates to appear as a fly in the spring.

Enjoy your meal.

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Republicans make gains among women and Latinos

Although a “red wave” that Republicans hoped for in the US election did not materialize on Tuesday, their party did make progress across multiple voter groups. Among female voters and Latinos, in particular, Republicans were able to gain significantly more votes than in the midterms of 2018, when those groups voted Democrats by large margins.

In the Congressional elections of four years ago, halfway through the term of former President Donald Trump, mainly female voters gave Democrats a majority in the House of Representatives. In the ‘blue wave’ of that year, the Democrats gained 41 seats. Among women, they then had a 19 percentage point advantage over Republicans: 59 percent of female voters voted for Democratic candidates. That colossal margin was the deciding factor in a punishment of Trump. In the 2020 presidential election, Trump fared slightly better; he then got 44 percent of female voters behind him.

This year, with President Biden in the White House and Democrats in the majority in both houses of Congress, their advantage among female voters has shrunk to 8 percentage points, a report shows. exit poll from Edison Research: Democrats got 53 percent of the vote from women, Republicans 45 percent (the rest went to others). Among male voters, Republicans’ advantage grew from 4 percentage points in 2018 to 14 today (women make up about 52 percent of the electorate, compared with 48 percent men).

Inflation and abortion

The figures can largely be explained by historical trends; the party of the incumbent president usually loses seats at the ‘midterms’. In addition, economic issues such as inflation are decisive for many voters this year. In these areas, Americans are often dissatisfied with the Democrats and Republicans present themselves as more competent.

However, the issue of abortion also seems to have played a role. At the end of June, the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion after 49 years. Democrats, like a majority of the American population, disagree. Voters voted Tuesday in referendums in the states of California, Michigan and Vermont in favor of proposals to enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. Kentucky and Montana voted on proposals to further restrict abortion. Remarkably, voters in these ‘red’ states voted against it (in Montana, that result was not yet final on Wednesday evening). Voters are therefore quite broad against curtailing abortion rights. This may have limited the loss of the Democrats.

Latinos

Another crucial voter group that seems to have made a difference this year is Latinos. In several races, including the Nevada Senate race, their votes are decisive. Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto was elected first Latina senator six years ago; now she is in danger of losing her seat to her Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. He appears to have been successful in his effort to draw Spanish-speaking voters, who traditionally vote for Democrats, to Republicans with a message of economic recovery.

The shift among Latino voters is visible at the national level in an exit poll from CNN: Among Latina women, the Democratic advantage over Republicans shrunk from 47 percentage points in 2018 to 33 this year. Among Hispanic men, it shrank from 29 to 8. That trend, a concern for Democrats, was also seen in other states. For example, during the Florida governor’s election, the district of Miami-Dade, a Democratic stronghold home to many Latinos of Cuban descent, turned red for Republican Ron DeSantis for the first time in two decades.

Nationally, Latinos, who make up about 11 percent of the electorate, vote for about 60 percent to Democrats and 39 percent to Republicans. In 2018, 7 out of 10 Latinos voted for Democrats. The Democrats’ advantage also dwindled among other ethnic groups. For example, 83 percent of black voters (11 percent of the electorate) voted for them – a slight decrease compared to 2018. Among voters of Asian background (2 percent of the electorate) voted about 6 in 10 voters for Democratic candidates; in 2018 that was still 8 out of 10.

Divided by age, Democrats maintained their advantage with young voters: 63 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for them. However, they make up only 12 percent of the voters who have emerged. A majority of voters surveyed in Edison Research’s exit poll were over the age of 45. Most of them voted for Republicans.

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Is this crisis a tipping point?

It news in The Guardian was, to speak with the English, the bloody limit: “Giant asteroid-planet killer discovered – and it’s headed our way.” There you have it: we are all going to die. “With a diameter of between one and two kilometers, space rock 2022 AP7 traverses Earth’s orbit.” But wait. The fine print. “There is no chance that the asteroid will hit Earth.”

You breathe a sigh of relief. Yet the hysterical piece, in a quality newspaper, of all places, characterizes the zeitgeist. We bump from crisis to crisis. Pandemic, war and now this.

Could it be worse? Apparently yes. On the eve of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt said UN chief António Guterres: “We are heading for a catastrophic situation if the developed and developing worlds cannot conclude a historic pact. Because if it continues like this, we are doomed.”

Crisis. The word that determines our daily existence. It is not for nothing that the perma crisis in England has been declared word of the year, and I see no reason why we can’t use the word like that. Because extraordinarily useful for now. Say ‘permacrisis’ and you automatically think of ‘permafrost’. With me the word then activates visions of our world frozen in a state of perpetual dread, imagined in my mind’s eye by The Scream (1893) by Edvard Munch.

Medical jargon

So, perma crisis. An extended era of instability and uncertainty. Media, constantly navigating between the collective imagination and the harsh reality, benefit from krinomaithe ancient Greek verb for, among other things, to separate or to separate, where our ‘crisis’ comes from.

Also read: The great acceleration: how one crisis drives the next

But the word can also mean ‘distinguish’, referring to a tipping point after which anything is possible. See also the Latin crisis which means ‘decision’ or ‘decisive turnaround’. This was originally a word from the medical jargon, used to indicate the decisive stage of a disease.

In this way ‘crisis’ can have a positive meaning. Philosopher Hannah Arendt alluded to this in a 1966 lecture on the constant presence of ‘crisis’ in modern society. Arendt argued that the crisis makes us aware that our view of the world has become uncertain, the future unpredictable. And that the rules and standards of the past are not universally applicable.

Confronted with ‘crisis’, we then investigate the incomprehensible. We discover the limits, the limitations of those old truths that have turned out to be irrelevant. This helps us, Arendt said, to sharpen our capacity to ask questions, to confront that which evades our understanding.

Arendt offers solace, but I’ll be honest: not very much. I have to deal with that “gigantic asteroid-planet killer”. In 2022. Even the year, like the title of a science fiction story, juggles my imagination. And I’m afraid the sequel coming.

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Russians say they are giving up Kherson

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has ordered Russian occupation forces in southern Ukraine to withdraw from the strategically important port city of Kherson. The position of Russian troops on the northwestern bank of the Dnieper had become untenable after weeks of sustained Ukrainian army counter-offensive from the north and east of the city.

If the Russian army does withdraw from Kherson, it will be a very painful defeat for President Putin and a major victory for Ukraine. Kherson is the capital of the province of the same name that was annexed by Russia at the end of September, along with three other provinces. Putin then said: „I want the government in Kiev and their western bosses to hear me […] the inhabitants of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia will forever be our citizens.”

Kherson was occupied by the Russian army in early March. There are few reports from the city, it is unknown what the condition of the remaining inhabitants and the buildings are. The region surrounding the city is strategically important as it is the gateway to Crimea, the peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Read also this article about the war and elections in the US

After the announcement of Shoigu, the Zelensky government is not convinced that the Russians will actually withdraw from Kherson. Zelensky’s advisor Mikhailo Podoljak tweeted: “Actions speak louder than words. We see no signs of Russia leaving Kherson without a fight. Some of the Russians remain in the city, and additional reserves are sent to the region. Ukraine is liberating areas on the basis of intelligence, not television statements.” The government is waiting for the Ukrainian flag to be fluttered.

Mysterious car accident

During the course of Wednesday it became clear that the frontline in Kherson was moving as news broke that Russian troops had blown up bridges in many places around the city. The chief regional driver, Russian-appointed Deputy Governor Kirill Stremooesov, was killed in a mysterious car accident. Later in the day, Minister Shoygu and General Sergei Surovikin announced on Russian television that the withdrawal of the troops was prompted by logistical problems. “Kherson can no longer be fully supplied and can no longer function,” Surovikin said. “Russia has done everything possible to ensure that the residents of Kherson could be evacuated. The decision to move the defense to the left bank of the Dnieper is not an easy one, but at the same time we will save many lives of our soldiers.”

The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south started in late August, but the big breakthrough followed in early October. The advance of the Ukrainian armed forces had a lot to do with the deployment of new, western weapons. In particular, the use of the American multiple missile artillery system HIMARS made a big difference. This enabled the Ukrainian army to attack Russian targets over distances of up to 80 kilometers. A regular target was the Antonivsky Bridge over the Dnieper, east of Kherson, crucial for supplying the city’s population, but also for the Russian army on the southeastern bank of the river. Ultimately, the position of the Russians became untenable.

Ruble entered

Kherson, a bustling port city of nearly 300,000 before the war, fell into Russian hands on March 2, a week after the start of the Russian invasion. Step by step, the city was Russified: TV channels and textbooks became Russian, the ruble was introduced as a means of payment, residents received Russian passports. At the same time, resistance increased and several pro-Russian administrators were liquidated. Pamphlets and posters threatened pro-Russian administrators and urged Russian soldiers to go home.

Read also this article about the occupation of Kherson

From mid-October it was clear to the Russians that Kherson was untenable. On October 19, President Putin declared martial law in the newly annexed areas. That same day, collaborative local officials called on residents to leave the city. Ukraine denies that these are evacuations and consistently calls them ‘deportations’. That’s a war crime. In late October, Russian officials in Kherson reported that the operation had been shut down.

disinformation

Rumors of an imminent departure of Russia from the city have increased over the past week. On November 3, the Russian flag disappeared from City Hall. There were also doubts: there may have been disinformation and a trap to lure Ukrainian soldiers into the city. The Ukrainian Center Against Disinformation warned: “The propaganda about surrendering the city resembles information sabotage designed to mislead Ukraine’s military leadership.”

In October, the Ukrainian government reported that Russia had installed explosives at the dam near the city of Nova Kachovka. This could blow up the dam, causing the Dnieper to overflow its banks. This would make it more difficult for Ukraine to continue the liberation offensive further south. It would also endanger the lives of residents in the river basin. The US Institute for the Study of War recently warned that such a move could be used by Moscow to divert attention from Kherson’s loss.

Putin loses geopolitical authority Page 12-13 Lux and Libertas

Read also this comment about ‘Ukraine fatigue

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The expensive housing construction in particular is coming to a standstill in Rotterdam

And again a housing project is delayed: 175 new homes between Tweebosstraat and Hilledijk cannot be built for the time being. This is a consequence of the decision of the Council of State last week, which annulled the zoning plan because no environmental impact assessment (MER) was made for this part of the Tweebosbuurt, while it should have been. The judgment has no influence on the realization of the two hundred homes that are planned elsewhere in the Tweebosbuurt.

It is a new noose for housing plans in Rotterdam, after the same Council of State canceled Feyenoord City at the end of October: not only because of the new stadium for Feyenoord, but also because of the district with 3,700 homes that would be built around it. The church can start over here.

The housing development in the city is not going well. Not only do court decisions stand in the way of the expansion of the stock, the market is also failing, while the demand for homes remains as high as ever.

The municipality itself is speeding up: in the first half of 2022, permits were granted for more than 3,100 homes, almost 60 percent more than in the first half of last year. At the same time, the actual realization is under pressure, the municipality notes in its own Market, Land and Real Estate Report Rotterdam 2022 from September. The report calls the postponement or cancellation of housing projects a ‘risk’, both in the affordable segment and in the higher and top segment.

Full of reality

In the meantime, the political signals are reaching that this is no longer a risk, but is already fully reality. Municipal councilor Co Engberts (PvdA) says in conversations with developers, builders and corporations that “tens to more than a hundred smaller and large projects in the city” are at a standstill for a longer period of time. He has written questions to the college.

The problem would mainly lie with the more expensive homes, says Engberts in an explanation to NRC. “Construction costs are rising and prices are falling, which is at the expense of returns. This puts investors off.”

The municipal report also mentions pressured financial feasibility, declining land yields, stagnating sales of real estate objects and a shortage on the labor market for both builders and the government that has to supervise the projects. At the same time, the developments are “barely influenced” by the municipality.

Read alsoWhere will all those houses be located?

Yet Engberts wants to know exactly that from the colleague: does it have a plan of action to free the production that has come to a standstill through ‘interventions’? He himself thinks back to the credit crisis of 2008, when investors also ran away. The municipality then bought land from developers to give it back to the same developers on a long lease.

Engberts also suggests canceling construction plans that are complicated and against which there is a lot of resistance. “One of the problems is that the official capacity is at its limits to supervise all these projects. You can then better deploy that capacity on promising developments instead of dragging on projects that are difficult. For example, I can imagine that you reconsider Pompenburg.”

Resistance to demolition

In that plan, the current buildings on the corner of Coolsingel-Pompenburg have to make way for a number of residential towers under the name RISE. A number of residents of the social rented apartment Pompenburg oppose the demolition of their homes.

For the time being, the problems therefore seem to focus on the higher segment and the construction of social rental housing by housing associations is less affected. Unless they are part of a mix of social-middle-upper top, as is the case in much larger projects.

PvdA councilor Engberts argues that the municipality should give the corporations more land positions. “They also ask for that, because they have a shortage. At least then they can get started.”

In cases where commercial parties hold onto their positions until better times arrive, the municipality might be able to make new agreements, says Engberts. He calls on the municipality to have “penetrating conversations” with corporations, developers, builders and investors.

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Cabinet lowers threshold for SME compensation in energy costs

The cabinet is going to relax the conditions for the energy cost allowance (TEK) for SMEs. That writes Minister Micky Adriaansens (Economic Affairs and Climate, VVD) in a letter to the House of Representatives on Wednesday. For the SME compensation, a company first had to spend at least 12.5% ​​of its turnover on energy costs. That has now been adjusted to 7 percent.

The compensation was announced on October 14 and is intended for smaller companies, up to 250 employees. The government wants to compensate so-called energy-intensive companies for the sharply rising tariffs. Earlier calculations assumed that certain fixed components in the energy bill, such as certain taxes, also increased. “However, this is not right,” said the minister.

As a result of the reduction, about 41,000 companies are now helped via the TEK, Adriaansens writes. Small businesses that consume a lot of energy, such as bakers and horticulturists, especially benefit from this. The maximum per company is 160,000 euros. To be eligible, the company must consume more than 5,000 cubic meters of gas or at least 50,000 kWh of electricity annually.

‘Good step’

The TEK will probably not be introduced until the second quarter of 2023 and will then take effect retroactively from November 1, 2022. The total cost of the allowance is estimated to be 1.65 billion euros.

Business organizations MKB-Nederland and NVO-NCW consider lowering the threshold a “very good step”, but want the maximum compensation to go up. “For many energy-intensive companies, such as brick manufacturers, cooling companies and the printing industry, 160,000 euros is just a drop in the ocean.”

Also read: Compensation for energy costs in the cultural sector seems imminent

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Germany stops Chinese takeover of chip maker

The German Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) has Wednesday in a press conference announced that the German government is banning two Chinese investments in Germany, including the acquisition of a chip factory in Dortmund.

It was already announced on Tuesday that it concerns, among other things, the factory of Elmos Semiconductor in Dortmund, a manufacturer that is so-called wafers makes. These are silicon disks from which semiconductors are extracted. In December last year, the company announced the sale of the German concern to Swedish competitor Silex, which is part of the Chinese group SAI.

Habeck said nothing about the other investment. According to government sources, it concerns investments in the chip company ERS Electronic, which is based in the southern state of Bavaria. Reuters news agency.

The sale comes a few days after Olaf Scholz stressed on his first visit to China as chancellor that concerns about the security of Western chip technology and supply chains are growing.

According to Habeck, Germany should nurture relations with China, but at the same time critically review investments in “key sectors of particular sensitivity”. Habeck emphasized that the state has an interest in keeping companies involved in Germany’s important infrastructure ‘as far as possible in European hands’.

Canada

Canada made a similar decision on Thursday. The government there forced three Chinese companies to divest their interests in Canadian mining projects. In this way, Canada wants to protect its supply chains of so-called critical raw materials against the influence of China. The Beijing government immediately condemned the decision.

It concerns interests in lithium mines in Argentina, Canada and Chile. Lithium is essential for the batteries of electric cars. The extraction of the metals cesium and tantalum in Ontario Canada is also important. Cesium is used, among other things, for atomic clocks and tantalum for various types of electronics, including mobile telephones.

Also read: Canada forces Chinese companies to sell their stake in Canadian mining projects

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Rwandan who, according to witnesses, ‘made church float in blood’ not extradited after all

“Yes,” answers Pierre-Claver K. softly into the microphone, he understood; he will not be extradited to Rwanda. The judge asked him to be sure. K. looks dazed, has a straight face, speaks softly. His son is sitting in the stands and, when he hears the statement, immediately puts his hands together, and then to his eyes. He was “surprised,” he says afterwards.

K. (66) is suspected of a role in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but it is “inadmissible” that he is extradited to his native country to be tried there, according to the judge. Three other Rwandan genocide suspects have been extradited in recent years. The difference is that there, K. runs a “real risk” of “political interference in his trial” – he is a political opponent of President Paul Kagame’s regime.

The extradition room took not the usual two but three weeks to reach a verdict on K. The case was about more than guilt: whether he participated in a mass murder of some 20,000 to 30,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the town of Mugina in April 1994. What the judge mainly ruled on on Wednesday is the reliability of the Rwandan legal system, the influence that Kagame has on it and the role that K. plays in the exiled opposition party FDU-Inkingi. Would he face a fair trial in Rwanda if he was extradited?

Concierge at an MBO school

The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was an attempt to systematically murder the Tutsi minority in the country. More than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Since that year, Rwanda has tried more than a million genocide suspects – in some cases Rwandans who had fled to European countries and extradited them.

Pierre-Claver K. has lived in the Netherlands since 1998, in Ermelo. Until recently, he was a sexton at the Catholic Church and a janitor at an MBO school in Harderwijk. Last May he was arrested on suspicion of involvement in genocide and detained in Alphen aan de Rijn. He will remain so for the time being, the judge fears that he would flee.

The lawsuits began shortly after human rights groups African Rights and Redress published an incriminating report on K., in 2010. It was drawn on the testimony of dozens of relatives of murdered residents of Mugina, just outside the capital Kigali. They pointed to him as involved in a massacre at the local parish church in April 1994 — a massacre that left the church “floating in blood,” they said.

One of the relatives explained how a Hutu militia killed her children, “David, five, Rebecca, three and a half, and Nyirantezirayo, one.” Then she herself was attacked. “I lost consciousness. The next day they came to finish their work. (…) When they came to me, I pretended to be dead. (…) I hid among the corpses for two more days.”

Then a complex case about events from 28 years ago more than six thousand kilometers from here is judged in a courtroom in The Hague

Thijs Bouwman historian and Rwanda expert

The mayor had protected Tutsis in Mugina by arresting the violent members of the Hutu militia on arrival. Major Pierre-Claver K., an officer of the Rwandan gendarmerie at the time, is also said to have initially guaranteed the safety of the Tutsis. A facade, the researchers wrote, because later he would force the mayor to release the militia members. They were armed, the mayor murdered – thus one of the biggest massacres in the genocide could take place.

Shortly after the report was published, the newspaper Fidelity with relatives who appointed K. as client. A 36-year-old sports journalist told how in 1994 he “saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears how K. ordered to kill everyone who came out of the church building with cleavers”.

NRC wrote at the time that the Rwandan justice had transferred an incriminating file about K. to the Dutch authorities. In 2012, Rwanda submitted an extradition request. It took almost ten years to strip K. of his Dutch citizenship – a necessary step to make extradition possible.

‘Claims fabricated’

After the report was published, K. told NRC that he “wasn’t even in Mugina” at the time of the murders. In addition, he had heard nothing about the suspicions before joining opposition party FDU-Inkingi – an organization banned by Kagame – in 2006. The allegations are allegedly fabricated by his political opponents.

That is also the reason why the Belgian professor emeritus Filip Reyntjens, who was presented as an expert in the case, wrote that a fair trial for K. in Rwanda would be “little likely”. Fair trials have been conducted, genocide suspects have also been acquitted, but it is “different with processes that have a political connotation”. Extraditing a suspect like K. is something that “a decent country can no longer burn its fingers on”, his lawyer pleaded.

The judge agrees: K.’s active membership of FDU-Inkingi and his former senior position in the Rwandan army make extradition too risky. There are ‘several trials’ of political opponents that have not been fair. Other FDU members have disappeared, been murdered or convicted in recent years.

The Public Prosecution Service doubts the political role that K. ascribes to himself. There is too little evidence that Kagame sees him as a “serious political opponent”, a spokesman says – that he profiles himself as an active opposition member is “no reason to believe” that the Rwandan president also sees him that way. The Public Prosecution Service has two weeks to decide to appeal the decision of the judge.

Politically active

At least two of the three Rwandan genocide suspects already extradited in recent years were also politically active. One of them filed a complaint against Kagame from the Netherlands, the other organized a meeting at which FDU party leader Victoire Ingabire was guest of honour. But both were, like K., not a “serious political opponent” of Kagame, according to the Public Prosecution Service.

The judge decided in their cases to extradite. One extradited genocide suspects was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison in Rwanda, the trials of the other two are still ongoing. The country now offers enough guarantees for a fair trial, according to the Public Prosecution Service – monitoring reports are being drawn up by the International Commission of Jurists.

The question should not only be whether Rwanda is able to give K. a fair trial, says historian and Rwanda expert Thijs Bouwknegt, but also: what is the alternative? K. will probably be tried in the Netherlands, as happened with two previous Rwandan genocide suspects when the guarantees mentioned by the Public Prosecution Service were not yet in place. “Then a complex case about events from 28 years ago, more than six thousand kilometers from here, is judged in a courtroom in The Hague. By Dutch judges who have never been to Rwanda, do not speak the language, do not know the culture and history,” says Bouwknegt. “And they depend on the cooperation of the Rwandan authorities to hear witnesses there.”