All 9 suspects in fatal assault in Mallorca must fear punishment

Even if the nine Gooise young men will soon have dearly paid lawyers by their side, they will still be faced with a thorny case. The Public Prosecution Service will look for who gave Heuvelman the fatal blow or kick, but the others will not go free either.

It remains to be seen what the men will be accused of via the so-called indictment. Much will depend on what evidence the Public Prosecution Service still manages to collect e.g. video images or witness statements.

Whole bone for the OM

That’s important, because the suspects are already denying. “It was my group of friends, but I wasn’t at the fight. No further comment,” said Hein, for example. Others can later say that they were on the road, but did not participate in the violence. And admittedly: with little evidence, that will be a tough job for the Public Prosecution Service.

The most relevant articles of law on the basis of which the suspects can be convicted are ‘open assault’ (Article 141 of the Criminal Code), assault (Article 300) or even manslaughter (287). It depends on the evidence – a bit of legal technology – which route is chosen.

Based on those articles, a member of a group can also be convicted without having used violence himself. The Supreme Court determined that it only needs to be proven that someone from the group has made a ‘significant contribution’. This can also be incitement, inciting yelling, or restraining the victim. Just being present does not make it a crime. That’s not enough for a conviction.

“But such a share does not have to be a blow,” says professor of sanctions law Henny Sackers. “Encouraging or helping the others also applies. It is about what is called a substantial contribution.”

Multiple assaults

It may also play a role that the Spanish police reported that the Gooise group was involved in ‘several acts of violence’ on the night of 14 July. Was the group looking for fights and casualties? So could everyone know that violence might be used?

In that case, jurisprudence will be examined in which intentionally committed crimes have been assessed by judges. A frequently cited example is the robbery of a bank by two robbers. One stays in the getaway car, the other goes inside and shoots an employee dead. Then the judge can impose the same sentence on both of them.

Even so, in the case of open violence by a group, judges do look closely at what everyone’s part was. For example, in the case of linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen, who was trampled to death in 2012, the sentences varied because some were clearly violent perpetrators, and others had a smaller role.

The fact that the Gooise boys fled to the Netherlands to avoid the Spanish cell does not mean that milder sentences are also awaiting here. For public violence resulting in death, 12 years in prison can be imposed. And since 1 July, a third of the penalty is no longer automatically deducted there. The convicted person must ‘earn’ this through good behavior in prison.

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