Ex-Dutch PM, 93, Dies 'Hand in Hand' With Wife by Euthanasia

Dries van Agt led nation from 1977 till 1982
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 9, 2024 1:14 PM CST

Dries van Agt, the Christian Democrat prime minister of the Netherlands from 1977 until 1982, has died by euthanasia along with his wife, according to the human rights organization he founded. They both were 93. The news was made public on Friday by the Rights Forum, which said the couple died Monday and would be buried in a private ceremony in the city of Nijmegen, per the AP. "He died hand in hand with his beloved wife Eugenie van Agt-Krekelberg, the support and anchor with whom he was together for more than 70 years and whom he always continued to refer to as 'my girl,'" the nonprofit organization said in a statement. The two both had been in fragile health for some time.

A Christian Democrat from traditional Dutch stock, van Agt became increasingly progressive after he departed politics. Van Agt was known for his archaic references and grandiose language, as well as his passion for cycling. He was forced to quit that hobby in 2019 after a fall. Together with the right-wing Liberal Party, the Christian Democratic Appeal governed the Netherlands with van Agt as prime minister from 1977 until 1981. After elections, he again became prime minister, forming a coalition that held for a year.

Following a visit to Israel in 1999, he became increasingly vocal about his support for the Palestinian people. He referred to his experience on the trip as a "conversion." In 2009, he founded the Rights Forum, which advocates for a "just and sustainable Dutch and European policy regarding the Palestine/Israel issue," according to the nonprofit. The NL Times notes this as well: He was serving as Justice Minister when "activists hijacked a passenger train and held it hostage for several weeks in 1977. Van Agt eventually gave the order to end the hijacking by force. Six hijackers and two passengers were killed in the operation." Van Agt is survived by his three children.

(More Netherlands stories.)

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