Is he a seasoned criminal or a harrowing victim of corruption, power and manipulation? Hüseyin Baybasin has been imprisoned since 27 March 1998. In several Dutch prisons under a mostly very limited regime. And without the prospect of release, because life imprisonment in the Netherlands is really life imprisonment. Several people, including former prison directors such as Bart Molenkamp, former director of the EBI in Vught and Frans Douw, former director of the PI Zuyder Bos in Heerhugowaard, are convinced of his innocence. Wim van der Pol and Klaas Langendoen (former detective) wrote a convincing book on the whole Baybasin case, explaining on all fronts the abuse of power, manipulation and dishonesty in this case. But Hans van der Ven, former head of signal analysis of the Military Intelligence and Security Service, and last but not least Professor Ton Derksen, the man behind the revision of Lucia de Berk's sentence, are also convinced of Baybasin's innocence. He wrote a number of books in which he convincingly demonstrates that the evidence against Baybasin was not only falsely obtained, but also completely incorrect in substance. An overwhelming amount of new facts and expert reports was provided by Adele van der Plas, the never relentless lawyer of Baybasin. The lawyer general at the Supreme Court, Mr. Aben, has seven years (!) studied on this request and found arguments to turn the case in such a way that the Supreme Court rejected this request for revision. Professor Derksen said about Mr. Aben's research: “He is either very stupid (and he is not) or very bad, the choice is yours.”
Hüseyin Baybasin was convicted of murder, incitement to murder, two hostages and a drug deal, so for running a criminal organization. It is almost unbelievable, but all the evidence in these cases is extremely carefully and skilfully unraveled and refuted by Professor Ton Derksen. The defense of Mr. Aben, attorney general at the Supreme Court, is described by him as “cleaning strategies”. In a conversation I had with him, he was very clear: “Aben just lides on various points.” Without going into all the points, I would like to mention one very crucial and clear point. In one of the many phone tapes, which were obviously manipulated, Baybasin would have said, “You have to make him cold.” That will be translated in court as “We have to kill him.” Besides the fact that on the tapers it is clear that he says something else, namely “You have to make him call”. is the expression “killing someone” only in Dutch, which Baybasin does not master, a synonym for “killing”. In English, such a thing simply does not exist.
And on the order of murder he would have given: Turkish trial documents on the tea murder indicate that both suspects (to whom Baybasin would have ordered murder) are acquitted or not prosecuted for complete lack of evidence. The alleged murderers turned out to be innocent, but the alleged client got life in the Netherlands. On May 6, I had a conversation with three of the four prison directors, now retired, some of whom managed a prison in which Baybasin was imprisoned. Jacques van Huet, former director of the Penitentiary institution (PI) Over Amstel, de Bijlmerbajes, Frans Douw, former director of PI Zuyder Bos in Heerhugowaard and Jos Poelman, former director of the Pompekliniek. Bart Molenkamp, former director of the EBI in Vught, could not be present, but I spoke to him by phone. They are unanimous in their conviction that there is a serious error of justice here. An error that may not be an error, but a deliberate action, possibly politically driven to honour agreements with Turkey. Probably to keep people out of the wind or cover up other things. Already several times they were, quite lonely, demonstrating in The Hague and flying. They're convinced of Baybasin's innocence. Frans Douw says that as director he was part of the larger system, in which loyalty to the hierarchy was the norm. As a result, values and standards are internalized. Only when you're out of the system, retired, for example, do you get away from that. If you're in it and stand up against it, it's political suicide.
What's going on here? How can this be? Is this really happening in the Netherlands? After all, we are a constitutional state of which we should be proud. This kind of thing happens only in “banana republics”, not in the very neat Dutch prisons. It is almost impossible to make people even doubt a little, to open their eyes to the fact that the Netherlands also has its political prisoner. Amnesty Netherlands does not respond to my requests to provide information about this. Politicians dive away when it comes to this case. There were some demonstrations in which the above-mentioned directors stuck their necks out and demonstrated at the parliament for the release of Baybasin, handed out flyers to leading MPs, but without result.
I myself have been able to visit Hüseyin several times in the Schie prison in Rotterdam. I requested this through the mental care department and with some difficulty I succeeded. At the moment these visits are banned again and I try to regain access via the appropriate roads. I only knew Hüseyin from the stories, the books. When I first meet him, I'm impressed by his appearance. Is this a man who's been in prison for over 20 years with no prospect of release? Powerful, proud upright and with friendly open eyes he greets me. “You are most welcome, I like to see some people who are interested in me. How is your family?” It's the question he asks every time I come and sometimes when he can call me. How's it going with you! How's your family, your kids, your grandchildren? He's an engaging man with a lot of interest in the other. The way in which he deals with the guards is extremely correct and even cordial. But also in principle. If we suddenly have to change rooms during a conversation (why?), he refuses to go to another doctor's office. “It's special for terrorists, and I'm not a terrorist. Any other room is fine, but not the terrorist room.” In front of me, therefore, there is not a terrorist, but an intelligent man with vision and faith in the future of his people, the Kurds. He was co-founder of the Kurdish parliament in exile in 1995, and also from his imprisonment he manages to play a lasting role in this. He remains optimistic, active, non-hateful and convinced of his cause. “I have been locked up, but my mind is free. Those who have done this to me are prisoners of their own minds.” That is his conviction, and that's how he holds it.
What does this do with your sense of justice, your trust in the rule of law and therefore your trust in many people within that rule of law? You're not just holding a political prisoner in custody. It takes a network of people who hold their hands over their heads. Who may “know something of each other” that makes them hold each other hostage. And then it has to be about politicians, justice, judges, (senior) officials, those who have been “served in your Highness”.
Ton Derksen: “It is possible and even quite common that people are wrongly trapped by misleading evidence. That's not even always malicious. In my book “Innocent Fix” I show that in life sentences, exonerating evidence is often omitted. Detectives and prosecutors, but ultimately judges, tend to treat suspects as perpetrators. He or she did it, and we're going to look for evidence. In several cases, I have shown that this mechanism has taken place. (Puttense Murder Case 2002, Schiedamse Parkmoord, 2004, Lucia de Berk, 2010, Ina Post 2010). In general, this is not malice, but rather - oddly enough - well-intentioned. We have to find a perpetrator and protect our citizens from dangerous criminals. So if we “know for sure “that someone did it, we'll prove it. When data appears that are exculpable to the suspect (perpetrator) one is inclined to omit it. Imagine a dangerous criminal not being convicted. When reviewing cases, there is a different mechanism, but with the same aim. If too many revisions are allocated, citizens could lose confidence in the rule of law. You can then apparently be wrongly convicted! In both cases, a kind of tube vision arises, which can lead to unjustified convictions. If that happens only in a few percent of cases, this will lead to many wrongful convictions in a huge amount of criminal cases. It may not be possible to exclude it altogether, but my passion is to prevent this as much as possible, especially in the case of lifelong punishments. It'll just happen to you. In the case of Baybasin, there is clearly something else going on. Although it has been clearly demonstrated that the evidence has been wrongly obtained and heavily manipulated, the train appears to be by the thunder. That frustrates me enormously. Mr. Aben is lying, the Supreme Court goes along, the system leaves it there. The rule of law is at stake! Again, mistakes can be made are almost inevitable. Even the failure to grant a review can result from the right protection of the rule of law. But consciously lying, ignoring the evidence of innocence, is a gross violation of the rule of law, in which there must be more to play than self-interest. Of course, there is also self-interest. Mr. Aben would like to join the Supreme Court, and refuting the request for revision may contribute to that. But there's more to play here. All kinds of theories are about that. I do not participate in these speculations, but they are fed by these false, unfair manipulations.”
A week later I have a conversation with Adèle van der Plas, the lawyer of Baybasin, who has been legally assisting him for years. In her I meet a passionate woman, with great indignation at the injustice that is almost impossible to fight. Her office in a building on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam is full of files. Really full, scattered all over the room. All for the Baybasin case. She does other things, but in fact only to keep the office running in order to continue to assist Baybasin. For he cannot pay, all his money and good has been seized, and there is even a great claim on him by the state - an attempt to force him to pay for the mistakes that have been made to him. What does it do to you and your trust in the rule of law, I ask her? “That trust is under pressure, especially in this case. There are so many people involved in this case that you wonder if the system still works the way it should work. If it is so clearly demonstrated that all the evidence obtained has been false, falsified, manipulated, who will all be involved in that? How is it possible that we have a political prisoner in the Netherlands? We're almost out of legal litigation. There may still be some (limited) possibilities at the European Court. But as far as the Netherlands is concerned, the responsibility now lies with the government, the politics. They should conduct an in-depth and independent investigation. But that seems almost impossible. Who should order that? Who should do that?”
The former directors believe that whistleblowers should be listened to, that politics is on the move, that the Lower House should take initiatives to investigate the affairs of the justice system. They don't think the chances of that happening are great. The need for it is. If the Netherlands are to remain a rule of law, something must be done to several people who have been monitoring the system for years and make it a narrow, closed system. These former directors also see an extremely negative role of the aforementioned Mr. Aben, Attorney General at the Supreme Court. On the Restore Justice website, managed by Jos Poelman, a link is made with the “Demmink case”. Jacques van Huet writes: “The immediate reason (to oppose his former employer) was the entry of former Judicial Chief Officer Joris Demmink to the Dutch Helsinki Committee. The Committee shall focus, inter alia, on combating child abuse. I have been involved in it professionally with former colleagues. When I heard that Demmink accused of child abuse joined the committee after his retirement in 2012, I stopped. I thought that was outrageous.”
The case looks like a dead end. Not much is written on Restore Justice anymore. But in his prison cell in Rotterdam there is still a man, unbroken in spirit, with an eventful interest in his country, his people, but also in the people around him. Not a cool killer, but a driven man, victim of a miscarriage of justice. Even more so, of political unwillingness, deliberate deception. Who picks up the glove? It seems hopeless, but it shouldn't be. If the Netherlands wants to remain a rule of law, we will have to solve matters like this and not look away. A quote from Prof. Ton Derksen's preface to the book “rattling arguments for the Supreme Court” reads: “Normally politicians should not interfere in lawsuits. After all, in a democracy there is a separation of powers and the judge must be able to operate independently. In this case, however, there is every reason for politics to wake up, because the independence of justice itself is in danger and because in a good democracy the various powers should control each other.”