It pains me that we have been prosecuted while similar cases have been dismissed. So complained Abdelhaquim K. to the court in Maastricht yesterday. K. is former chairman of SIS Heerlen, the Islamic Primary School Foundation with branches in Heerlen and Maastricht. K. and two fellow directors heard prison or community service sentences against them for their tampering with the schools' payrolls. The men attributed salary to themselves and their wives without actually working at the schools.According to those involved, an emergency move to pay for loss-making student transportation. "We did everything in the service of a higher goal, namely that Islamic children also receive a good education," said K.
According to attorney Serge Weening, there was a kind of "emergency" to keep the school afloat and therefore the administrators are not punishable. Counselor Sabina Gomez Espinosa also argues that her client does not deserve punishment "because he had no way to go." The prosecution does not believe any of the stories and believes the directors enriched themselves, including by pocketing large sums of money in Morocco. Still, the question of whether the SIS Heerlen directors were "victimized" by the Justice Department is not entirely incomprehensible.
The Ministry of Education has found that 85 percent of all Islamic school boards in the Netherlands messed around with money between 2004 and 2008.Four charges were filed, three of which were filed by the ministry itself, including against SIS Helmond, which included the now defunct Islamic elementary school in Roermond. "But there is no question of arbitrariness," said Public Prosecutor Bliek of the Functional Prosecutor's Office yesterday: "They are not similar cases." Correspondence in which Justice explains why the Roermond school board is not being prosecuted will not be made public.