The maximum sentence for manslaughter will rise from 15 years to 25, if draft legislation drawn up justice ministers Ferd Grapperhaus and Sander Dekker becomes law.
Manslaughter is ‘a very serious crime which causes irreparable suffering to the relatives of victims,’ the ministers said in a briefing to MPs. This change in the law is also in response to signals from the legal profession, the ministers added.
Legal experts and MPs have raised concerns that the gap in maximum sentences between murder – up to 30 years – and manslaughter is currently too great. Both crimes involve deliberately killing someone but manslaughter is an impulsive act, rather than a premeditated one.
Last year, judges in Rotterdam urged ministers to reconsider the maximum sentence for manslaughter following the murder of school girl Humeyra Ergincanli. Her killer was jailed for 14 years because it could not be proved that he had planned to kill the girl.
Public prosecutors have also called for tougher sentences.
Judges can also sentence a murderer to life in jail. Currently in the Netherlands, life sentences mean just that, but cases will be assessed after 25 years for possible release.
There are currently around 30 prisoners serving life sentences in Dutch prisons, including several gangland murderers and Mohammed Bouyeri, who murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.
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