Riot police break up protests over holidaymaker’s arrest death (update)

police car

In total 16 people were arrested in Monday night’s riots in The Hague which followed the death of a man who had been picked up by police on Saturday night.

Several remain in custody and the police are not ruling out further arrests.

Riot police broke up a demonstration outside a police station in The Hague district of Schilderswijk on Monday evening after around 200 people gathered to protest at the death of an Aruban holidaymaker.

Police used water canon and dogs to disperse the crowd after the mood turned ugly around 21.00. According to broadcaster Nos, the protestors were angry that no police representative would come outside and speak to them.

Rocks and bottles were thrown at police and at properties, and a shed on a building site was set on fire. Public transport services were halted and the area remained tense all evening, the broadcaster said.

Mitch Henriquez was pinned to the ground and bundled into a police van as he left the Night at the Park concert in the city’s Zuiderpark on Saturday evening. He died in hospital the next day.

The public prosecution service now says it is to investigate whether police used excessive force in restraining the 42-year-old.

Police said they forcibly handcuffed the Aruban, who was visiting his family in The Hague, after he claimed to be carrying a gun and had resisted arrest. Spokesman Wouter Bos later confirmed that Henriquez was unarmed.

Fallen ill

The public prosecution department initially claimed Henriquez had ‘fallen ill’ in the police van on the way to hospital. But video footage emerged on social media on Monday that showed Henriquez slumped and unmoving as he was lifted off his feet and bundled into the van by at least three officers.

The videos led to widespread accusations of police brutality on social media and criticism from politicians in Aruba and The Hague when they emerged on Sunday afternoon.

The public prosecution department later issued a revised statement retracting the claim that Henriquez fell ill in the van. A post mortem is taking place on Tuesday and an inquiry will be carried out by the police regulator, the Rijksrecherche.

The city’s acting chief of police, Paul Enken, said his officers would co-operate fully with the investigators. ‘I understand the grief and the anger and the call for an independent investigation,” he said. “There are a lot of questions that need to be answered.’

One eyewitness, Esther de Ruiter, wrote on Facebook that Henriquez was rushed from behind by at least six officers, one of whom beat him repeatedly with a baton on his head and legs.

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