The Dutch nationals suspected of the fatal attack on Carlo Heuvelman in Majorca two weeks ago will be tried in the Netherlands after all, following a request from the Spanish investigating judge, the public prosecution office has announced.
‘The Spanish judge in the case has ruled that the investigation should be carried out by the Dutch authorities. We have honoured that request,’ OM spokesman Bart Nitrauw told broadcaster NOS.
The Spanish prosecution office did not explain its decision, but according to Leiden University professor Jannemieke Ouwerkerk, one reason may the complexity of the case.
‘The Spanish authorities may have decided that to issue an individual European arrest warrant for each of the men would be too complex a process. Each warrant need to specify exactly who is being charged with what. Another reason may be that the family of the victim has put in a request for the case to be tried here,’ Ouwerkerk said.
Ouwerkerk said a transfer may have been on the cards quite early on. Last week the Dutch prosecution office started its own investigation after two other Dutch nationals claimed they were assaulted by the same group who attacked Heuvelman. These cases will be added to the file, the prosecution department said.
International lawyer Bob Kaarls said the fact the men fled the island before they could be apprehended made things very difficult for Spanish police. ‘And I can imagine that the authorities in Majorca are not keen for media attention to focus on tourists being the victims of violence there,’ he added.
The transfer is not straightforward. The Dutch prosecution office will still have to ascertain that the people who have been named as suspects are suspects according to Dutch law, and all the documents pertaining to the case will have to be translated into Dutch, which could take up to two weeks.
There is, however, plenty of video footage available in which witnesses are heard to speak Dutch and the Dutch prosecution office has called on these people to come forward.
A trial in the Netherlands will help the alleged perpetrators, Ouwerkerk said. ‘It’s better for them to be tried here where they can understand the language,’ she said. As far as sentencing is concerned, she said that despite differences in the judicial systems the actual time served for a crime is likely to be more or less the same.
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