Schiphol fire suspect to go on trial in May

12th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 December 2006, AMSTERDAM — The trial of the suspected arsonist at the Schiphol East detention centre will be held in May, Haarlem Court ruled on Tuesday.

12 December 2006

AMSTERDAM — The trial of the suspected arsonist at the Schiphol East detention centre will be held in May, Haarlem Court ruled on Tuesday.

The public prosecution office (OM) has also contracted the engineering bureau DGMR in Maastricht to carry out a technical investigation of last October's blaze and the rapid spread of the fire and smoke.

The OM accuses a 24-year-old Libyan, Achmed Al-J., of deliberating starting a fire in his cell. The resulting blaze caused the deaths of 11 prisoners at the immigration detention centre.

Al-J. was freed from detention last Friday after the Council of State ordered his release from a Rotterdam immigration detention cell.

He has been ordered to report to police on a daily basis and is not allowed to leave the Netherlands until his trial has been held.
  
The suspect claims the fire started accidentally in his cell when his bedding caught fire after he flicked a smouldering cigarette away.

Defence lawyer Eduard Damman has raised concerns about the objectivity of DGMR and will enter into discussions about the investigation with the judge and public prosecutor.

Also under suspicion are two guards who were on duty the night the fire broke out. They are suspected of culpable homicide.

The young warders were the first to reach Al-J's cell, but forgot to close the door as they evacuated him.

But it is not yet clear whether the guards — and possibly other suspects — will go on trial. The technical investigation will be used to decide if any further charges will be laid.

The Dutch Safety Board is also investigating the blaze, but the OM is not allowed to use the results of those inquiries as evidence in court.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]

Subject: Dutch news

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