Death ‘occupational hazard’ for burglars? What the papers say
Junior justice minister Fred Teeven’s comment that death is an ‘occupational hazard’ for burglars has caused controversy. What the papers say.
NRC writes this is not the first time the junior minister has intervened in a case that is still under investigation. In 2007, Teeven’s comments on the Holleeder case (he commented on Holleeder’s presumed guilt of the extortion he was charged with, DN) were considered ‘risky’ and ‘untimely’ by the court and resulted in a lower sentence for the one-time Heineken abductor who claimed his defence had been compromised by the publicity.
The public prosecution in the case in which an alleged burglar died, presumably as a result of a fight with the inhabitants of the house, still has to determine if excessive force was used. ‘A person who is attacked in his home must choose the least violent way of defending himself. This may constitute fighting back or hitting out but also turning one’s back and withdrawing from the scene. It all depends on the circumstances. Someone who hears a burglar in the night does not have the automatic right to shoot him with a shotgun he has at the ready for such a circumstance,’ the paper reminds us.
NRC thinks Teeven is using the case for political ends and might be clearing the way for a more comprehensive interpretation of what is meant by ‘excessive violence’.
Trouw’s Adri Vermaat writes that the case highlights the confusion which exists over ‘the fine line between self-defence and taking the law into one’s own hands, both among citizens and the police and the justice department’. ‘In November last year four men caught a burglar at the Frans Otten Stadium in Amsterdam. The man was hit with a baseball bat and left in a coma. The four men were arrested. Three of them were subsequently released. The fourth was released in January because of family circumstances. The public prosecution office still hasn’t decided whether to prosecute or not,’ Vermaat writes.
In a comment, Elsevier says Teeven has given ‘a clear signal’ in favour of the victims of burglaries but thinks his choice of example was ‘unfortunate’ as the case is still under investigation. ‘It’s the world on its head if citizens who defend themselves against criminals are put in jail during the investigation. We have Fred Teeven to thank for the fact they can go home after the interrogation. It’s the criminals who belong in the cell, not the victims.’
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