Dutch court cuts Libyan's sentence for deadly airport fire

5th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Dutch appeals judges on Thursday cut a Libyan's already-served sentence in half for starting a fire at an immigrant detention centre at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport that killed 11 people in 2005.

The Hague - Dutch appeals judges on Thursday cut a Libyan's already-served sentence in half for starting a fire at an immigrant detention centre at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport that killed 11 people in 2005.

"The appeals court in Amsterdam sentenced the suspect in the Schiphol
fire case to 18 months' imprisonment for arson," said a court statement.

The court found that Ahmed al-Jeballi, 27, "threw the burning butt of a
self-rolled cigarette in the direction of the foot of his bed, which
caused the fire."

In the early hours of October 27, 2005, nine men and two women -- from
Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Libya, Romania, Surinam,
Turkey and Ukraine -- died trapped in their cells when the fire broke
out in a wing of the prefabricated detention centre.

They were among nearly 300 illegal immigrants awaiting deportation from
the Netherlands.

Fifteen people were injured.

Jeballi was sentenced to three years in prison in June 2007, but was
released from custody four months later pending the hearing of his
appeal. By that time, he had been behind bars for two years.

Both Jeballi and prosecutors appealed the verdict.

An official Dutch report in 2006 said the blaze would not have had such
serious consequences if proper attention had been given to safety at the
detention centre -- sparking the resignations of the justice and housing
ministers.

The appeals court said that Jeballi could not be held responsible for
the spread of the fire beyond his cell.

"Several circumstances and events, including leaving open the cell door
after the suspect was removed from it ... the construction of the cell
complex, the material used, the assistance provided and delaying factors
played a role in the development of the fire.

"These factors mean that the deaths of the 11 persons in the fire cannot
be blamed on the suspect."

Jeballi had been required to remain in the Netherlands pending the
outcome of the appeal.

AFP / Expatica

0 Comments To This Article