Dutch prosecutors to probe retired top justice official for rape of 2 boys in Turkey

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch prosecutors are to probe a retired top justice official for allegedly raping two Turkish boys in the 1990s, amid denials there had been a cover-up in the languishing case.

"The court considers... that a criminal investigation is appropriate," the Den Bosch Appeals Court said on Tuesday of the allegations against former justice ministry secretary-general Joris Demmink.

"Until now other investigations have not yielded the desired clarity," the judges said as they reopened a case that had led to international accusations that the Dutch authorities were failing to investigate properly.

Mr Demmink, who was once regarded one of the country's most powerful civil servants, is being investigated over allegations that he raped two Turkish boys aged between 12 and 15 years old while on visits to Istanbul in the mid-1990s.

The two boys, now men, filed complaints with Dutch judicial authorities in 2008 and 2010, but so far no action has been taken, with the public prosecutor citing a lack of evidence.

Mr Demmink has vigorously denied the claims and maintained that he was not in Turkey when the alleged rapes took place. His presence in Turkey has never been proven.

His lawyer Mischa Wladimiroff told the Dutch news agency ANP the newly ordered probe would prove that "Demmink did nothing wrong".

An initial investigation did not lead to a prosecution due to lack of evidence, public prosecution spokesman Thea Tjeerdema told AFP.

The new, more extensive investigation comes after the two men took advantage of a Dutch law allowing them to ask judges directly to order prosecutors to investigate.

Court papers released on Tuesday say a Turkish police officer, charged with guarding high-ranking diplomatic officials in Istanbul, has confessed to a Turkish investigative journalist how he allegedly procured young boys for Mr Demmink.

Dutch Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten said on Tuesday said he "respected the court's decision", denying that the allegations had previously been swept under the carpet because of MR Demmink's position as a top justice civil servant, ANP reported.

Between 2002 and 2012 Mr Demmink was the highest-ranking non-elected official within the Dutch Justice Ministry.

The Netherlands has been berated over the quality of the investigation into Mr Demmink's case.

In 2012, United States Congressman Chris Smith raised what he termed the "shocking and horrifying" allegations against Mr Demmink as he spoke in front of a US committee on human trafficking, describing the Dutch Justice Ministry as an "ostrich with its head in the sand".