Rutte blames himself for not having studied the Soumaya Sahla case enough

Prime Minister Rutte on Friday at the press conference after the weekly Council of Ministers.Statue Lex van Lieshout / ANP

Rutte said this on Friday during his weekly press conference. He confirmed that Sahla and her mentor, VVD celebrity Frits Bolkestein, visited him a few years ago in the Torentje. Rutte believes that Sahla cannot hold a position in the party for the time being after all the commotion of the past two weeks. She is allowed to remain a member of the VVD.

Sahla has served a prison sentence of three years for her involvement in the Hofstad group. She is now making an effort to prevent others from making the same mistakes as she, Rutte emphasized. But ‘that also includes deep regret’, which she had never expressed until now. That regret is especially relevant for the people who have felt threatened by her, including Geert Wilders.

The PVV leader asked parliamentary questions about Sahla’s position within the VVD and discussed the subject extensively during the debate on the government statement. Rutte and VVD party leader Sophie Hermans initially tried to calm the matter, but Hermans said on Sunday that he had an ‘uncomfortable feeling’ and faced a ‘dilemma’.

Sahla finally wrote in a statement on Wednesday that she regretted the choices she had made in the past. Rutte called that ‘important’. But as ‘chairman of the table’ within the thematic network Justice and Security of the VVD, according to him, she could not be maintained.