Amsterdam Airport, called Schiphol, is a rather huge one. I am not exactly sure but it ranks somewhere in the upper 5 airports in the European ranking list. A couple of years ago, the administration built a detention area on the east side of the Airport. The east side is also called the “old” Schiphol, where the tower was when it was still a grass strip. Operations like cargo, maintenance hangars and general aviation (who they hate) are located there. The detention area was built using portable cabins, you and I would call it containers, but think lots of wood and plastics. Starting in 2002 and later in 2003 and 2004, concerns were raised about it’s safety, especially with respect to fire. On the night of oktober 26th 2005 the inevitable happened. A fire broke out in one cell and the consequential blaze, fueled by extra oxygen as the door of that cell was left open killed 11 prisoners, most, if not all, illegal immigrants.

The commision that investigated the fire, in fact our sort of NTSB to keep it independant, stated in their leaked report that the guards, who were employees of a private security company, had not had any practical training on fire handling, were not even near the area where the fire started, the complex was highly flammable, had no central unlock system to open the doors and the building licences were totally fucked up. The report on this horrible accident, while not officially out yet draws serious conclusions: had the administration stuck to their own rules (or even listened to the growing concerns expressed by insiders), more, if not all lives would have been saved that night.

Now whatever anyone thinks of foreigners or (illegal) immigrants is more or less their business. It is worth to note though that most of them had no criminal record. Their crime was they tried to enter this country without permit. The simple fact is these prisoners were in the custody of the administration, and while they were detained, the administration has an obligation to care for them. The administration knowingly didn’t care for these prisoners.

Right now, the cover-your-a$$ engine is in full spin, but the political consequences could be fierce, with elections coming in November. Minister of Justice Donner (kinda Rummy type of character, really scary) is powerplaying in opposing the report; his letter to the commission leaked too, how weird ;) . While it is hard to imagine parliament will send the two responsible ministers home, it would be kind of interesting, as the crew tripped a few months ago and the november elections are a result of that crisis, which btw was caused by the insane behavior of the right winged minister Verdonk responsible for expedition and segragation, oh sorry, immigration and integration. How to send away these boys and girls who already lost their mandate? To be continued.

unfolding story I: The official report is out today (sept 21). A few days ago, another the ministers called the fire “a dirty act”, ininuation one of the prosoners lit the fire on purpose. Turned out the prisoners were allowed to smoke in their cells and there is not a shred of proof for arson. He already took his words back and apologized. 1-0. The commision did not bow for the powerplay and made the report even a bit stronger. 2-0.

unfolding story II: Donner’s dead. He resigned, together with the minister responisble for all government assets, such as buildings. Just to refresh your minds, he’s also the scary anti-terror minister. If the 11 dead weren’t so tragical, it is really funny that he trips in sight of the harbor, casued by illegal immigrants.