UK expat ends hunger strike in murder appeal

10th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — British expat Kevin Sweeney has called off a hunger strike he launched in a Dutch jail in July 2004.

10 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — British expat Kevin Sweeney has called off a hunger strike he launched in a Dutch jail in July 2004.

Sweeney told Expatica he was prepared to fast to death in his bid to be given an opportunity to prepare a new appeal against his conviction for murdering his wife. He claimed he was being denied access to his file and a computer he needed to prepare the appeal.

The European legal rights charity Fair Trials Abroad has been working with Sweeney for months to try and reach a compromise with Dutch authorities.

Fair Trials Abroad lawyer Sabine Zanker announced on Thursday that an agreement had finally been reached with the Dutch Ministry of Justice, leading to Sweeney's decision to stop his fast.

"After months of intensive discussions, including two face-to-face meetings, and in close co-operation with Judith Serrarens of the Lawyers’ Practice of the University of Maastricht, we were able to reach an agreement with the Dutch Ministry of Justice, which will allow Mr Sweeney to prepare his application for review of his case in a reasonable manner," Zanker said.

"Not only has Kevin Sweeney’s life been saved at the last minute, but this is also an important milestone in Kevin’s fight to clear his name."

Sweeney, 44, came to the Netherlands in the 1990s to set up a CD production facility in Eindhoven.

He was jailed for 13 years in 2001 for killing his third wife, Suzanne Davies, after one of the longest criminal cases in Dutch legal history.  Davies, 35, died of smoke inhalation when a fire erupted in the bedroom at the couple's home in Steensel in the south of the Netherlands in July 1995.

His sentence was reduced on appeal to 12 years and 6 months, but his conviction was upheld. He has been campaigning for access to materials to allow him to undertake a new appeal.

Fair Trials Abroad does not doubt that Sweeney is innocent. "There is no doubt that Mr Sweeney was many miles away at the time of the incident. His wife was alone in the house which was locked and bolted from the inside. The circumstances of the fire strongly suggest that death occurred from smoke inhalation after a fire was accidentally caused by a cigarette," the organisation said in a statement.

"Indeed nothing implies that a third party, let alone Mr Sweeney, could have started the fire in the house, which caused only limited damage to his wife's bed. Yet Mr Sweeney was convicted on the assumption that he started an allegedly explosive and raging fire, which does not fit the agreed time table of facts."

Sabine Zanker said in the statement that in recent months Sweeney has received support from Members of the British and Dutch Parliaments and Members of the European Parliament.

Fair Trials Abroad said Sweeney is looking forward to providing new scientific evidence, which will show that the alleged sequel of events, which led to his conviction, was impossible.

Suzanne Davies' parents continue to believe she was murdered by Sweeney. After Sweeney's case was highlighted on Expatica, her parents said a number of his claims about the case were incorrect and a distortion of reality.

The prosecutor has alleged that Sweeney killed Davies for a considerable amount of insurance money and points to the scientific evidence compiled against him.

It has labelled him a two-faced, manipulative man "in the worst sense", asserting further that Sweeney has twice been convicted of the murder, once on appeal and again in the Supreme Court.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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