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Dutch Royal fiancee in mobster row

The Dutch Royals have a history of coming up against opposition to their planned marriages
The Dutch Royals have a history of coming up against opposition to their planned marriages

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AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Dutch Royal family has stirred up controversy over the engagement of Prince Johan Friso to a woman alleged to have had a relationship with a gangster.

Mabel Wisse Smit became engaged to the second-in-line to the throne in June, after a career in human rights' organizations and the United Nations.

But reports have surfaced that she had a relationship with Klaas Bruinsma -- a criminal shot dead in a gangland killing in 1991.

She denies having been Bruinsma's lover, but admits to having known him for a brief period when she was a student.

Some politicians have said the prince must give up his claim to possible succession if he goes through with the marriage without the blessing of parliament.

Some royalists have also said the wedding should not be allowed to go ahead, Reuters reported.

It is the latest Royal match to have caused controversy.

The Dutch Royal family came under fire when Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander married Argentinean Maxima Zorreguieta last year.

The relationship sparked controversy when it emerged that Maxima's father had been a minister during the 1976-1983 Argentinean military dictatorship.

While Queen Beatrix's own marriage to German-born Claus triggered riots.

Diplomatic dignitaries have come to Wisse Smit's defense, saying she spent a career trying to help the oppressed.

Supporters include billionaire philanthropist George Soros and former French minister and U.N. envoy Bernard Kouchner.

"It is shocking that a person who has done so much for human rights in the world should be treated so badly in her own country because of a dubious accusation about an issue dating back 15 years, when she was in her early 20s,'' the group wrote in an open letter published in Dutch daily De Volkskrant on Thursday.

"As friends and colleagues, we support her totally.''

Wisse Smit, 35, an economics and political science graduate, has worked for the United Nations, the Open Society Institute -- part of Soros' network -- and a non-governmental organization promoting democracy and stability in the Balkans.

A former bodyguard to Bruinsma said last week Wisse Smit had been the mobster's lover.

Wisse Smit admits she had known Bruinsma for a few months when she was a student and had spent a few nights on his boat but never slept with him. She split with Bruinsma when she learned of "the practices he engaged in.''

Another former Bruinsma employee attacked the bodyguard's credibility. And a female friend of Wisse Smit said she, not Mabel, had actually been the gangster's girlfriend, Reuters adds.

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