Published On: Thu, Jan 4th, 2018

Police officers appeal Henriquez verdict

THE HAGUE – The police officers that were involved in the arrest of Aruban Mitch Henriquez in June 2015 at the Parkpop festival in The Hague have appealed their convictions, their attorneys announced  on Thursday. The two officers, identified only as DH01 and DH02 should have been acquitted, the defense reasons.

Two weeks ago the court sentenced the two officers to a conditional prison sentence of 6 months, Elsbeth Stoker reports in the Volkskrant. According to the court, the officers ill-treated Henriquez and they are responsible for his death. The judges established that there was no intent to kill the 42-year old Aruban, but they ruled that DH01 should never have held Henriquez in a chokehold for so long. DH02 should not have used pepper spray aimed at the eyes at the same moment. The names of the officers remain confidential because their safety is supposedly at risk.

The sentence was higher than the demand by the public prosecutor. The prosecutors established that the officers are guilty of ill-treatment but they did not see a link with Henriquez’ death. The prosecutors said that the officers did not deserve a punishment because they had already been punished enough.

The attorneys of the two officers are of the opinion that their clients should not have been sentenced at all. “The defense is of the opinion that an integral acquittal is justified.”

Henriquez died in June 2015 after he was brutally arrested by five police officers in the Zuiderpark in The Hague. The officers arrested Henriquez after he had jokingly shouted that he had a weapon. According to the officers Henriquez disturbed the public order, adding that they had no choice but to floor him with the use of violence because he was forcefully resisting arrest.

Henriquez family is shocked by the request for an appeal. “It is shocking to maintain that it is okay what you did. The video footage of the arrest clearly shows that the officers went too far.” they said. The family hopes that the officers will get an unconditional prison sentence on appeal.

On appeal the court will handle the case again in its entirety. During the trial in first instance the central question focused on the cause of death. Experts disagreed with each other. Some of them – called by the defense – said that there is no link between the actions of the police officers and Henriquez’ death. Others expressed a different opinion.

The court did not choose sides and established that the most likely cause of death is a combination of factors. Chances that Henriquez would have died without the choke hold are minimal, the court ruled. “There is a link between the chokehold and his death.”