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Prosecutor leaves crime files on dumped PC

Thrashed over trash

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Dutch public prosecutor Joost Tonino was condemned yesterday for putting his old PC out with the trash. It contained sensitive information about criminal investigations in Amsterdam, and also his email address, credit card number, social security number and personal tax files. Tonino dumped the computer, which he hadn't used for two years, because he thought it contained a virus. The operating system wouldn't start.

A taxi driver found the PC on the steet just outside Tonino's home, got it working again and informed a crime reporter, who yesterday revealed on television what was on the hard disk. Based on information eft on the PC, the reporter also managed to gain access to Tonino's email account.

Although the PC was meant for personal use, the hard drive contained hundreds of files about murdered real estate owner Willem Endstra, former Philips CEO Cor Boonstra (who was accused of insider dealing) and an investigation over allegations that soccer team Ajax avoided paying millions of dollars in taxes.

Putting a PC with highly classified material in the bin is against Dutch judicial protocol. Media labelled with the highest classification should be destroyed when it is no longer required. The prosecutor can consider himself lucky that the taxi driver didn't leak the information to criminals, who would have paid a fortune for it.

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