Expatica news

Scapegoat jailed for fireworks blast wins payout

3 May 2004

AMSTERDAM — The man falsely convicted of the Enschede fireworks disaster that killed 22 people on 13 May 2000 will be paid EUR 125,000 in damages.

Andre de Vries had demanded EUR 1 million in compensation, news agency ANP reported, but Arnhem Appeals Court ruled on Monday that he should be awarded just one eighth of that amount.

De Vries, 36, was sentenced to 15 years jail by Almelo Court in September 2002 after being convicted of arson at the SE Fireworks warehouse. The depot of illegally stored fireworks exploded, destroying 400 houses and killing 22 people. Almost 1,000 people were injured.

But Arnhem Appeals Court overturned the ruling in May 2003 due to a lack of evidence and ruled on Monday that the time spent in jail had long-term negative consequences for De Vries, who always maintained his innocence in court.

The court ruled that De Vries was partly to blame for the extended period he remained in remand custody. It found that the former Enschede resident had worked against the investigation and gave demonstrable false statements.

De Vries spent almost 2.5 years in jail on suspicion of involvement in the fireworks disaster, but the prosecution demanded that his compensation be limited to the standard EUR 60,000. The prosecution said it would accept the appeal court’s ruling.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news