Published On: Tue, Nov 14th, 2017

Preferential treatment

By Hilbert Haar

The independent judge is a precious and essential part of our judicial system. This means that, in general, court rulings simply have to be respected. If you don’t agree, the system offers appeal options.

While the system seems to be fair and balanced, not all court rulings are properly understood and at times it is hard to explain why a ruling went a certain way.

This is for instance the case with the decision by Dutch courts to shield the names of two police officers who are on trial for the death of Aruban Mitch Henriquez. The attorneys for the Henriquez family have done their utmost to obtain these names but to no avail.

The suspects in this unique case are now only known as DH01 and DH02, whereby one may assume that the two letters stand for Den Haag (The Hague).

The reason for keeping the names of the officers a secret is rather mundane. There have been death threats against them immediately after Henriquez death in June 2015.

In our justice system we want people to have their day in court; lynching is not our style, nor should it be.

But keeping the names of the officers a secret is a controversial decision that smells badly of preferential treatment.

What about all those bad guys who end up in court for heavy stuff like murder, rape or incest? Could they not also be at risk? Would the loved ones of a murder or rape victim not want to put a bullet in the head of a guy who ruined their lives? That seems to be an almost natural reaction to such a traumatic event.

How difficult could it be to orchestrate a social media assault on a defendant in a murder or rape case? Threatening to kill someone, or even threatening to break someone’s legs, is enough for the justice system to spring into action.

It’s not too difficult to figure out who is behind a social media threat, but would in such cases the murder or rape suspect also be honored with the royal treatment these two police officers are getting now?

I doubt that very much, but the court ruling in the Henriquez case has opened the door for defense lawyers to make this argument. And who would be there to argue that they don’t have a point?