Convicted expat murderer extends hunger strike
2 December 2004
AMSTERDAM — Convicted murderer and British expat Kevin Sweeney has decided to continue his hunger strike several more days until he has confirmation of his transfer from a Dutch to a Belgian jail cell.
Sweeney, who is being detained at the Scheveningen penitentiary hospital, has applied to the Dutch Justice Ministry for a transfer to a Belgium jail, but the ministry has demanded assurances from Belgian authorities that he will not be released earlier than under Dutch regulations.
The British expat is serving a sentence of 12 years and 6 months for murdering his wife, Suzanne Davis. He cannot apply for early release under Dutch law until he has served two-thirds of the term. But under Belgium law, he could gain an early release after serving just one-third.
UK-based Fair Trials Abroad lawyer Sabine Zanker said people sentenced to a jail term of more than 10-years in Belgium usually do not gain early release until they have served two-thirds of their sentence.
Such a decision is made by a court, however, and it will be difficult for the Belgian Justice Ministry to give an assurance to Dutch authorities that he will not gain early release.
Sweeney extended his hunger strike for several more days as he awaits the outcome of negotiations between the Dutch and Belgian authorities. He had indicated on Wednesday that he would make a decision on Thursday about ending his hunger strike, which he launched in July.
“Fair Trials Abroad is hoping for the good will of the Dutch Justice Ministry to give his application for transfer an open and honest reconsideration,” Zanker said.
Sweeney hopes to be transferred so he can be closer to his wife who lives in Belgian. But he insists he will continue the fight to clear his name. He is demanding a review of his case in the Dutch Supreme Court and should he gain a transfer, any subsequent retrial will still need to be heard in the Netherlands.
He was convicted on appeal in February 2001 after being acquitted in 1996 of murdering his wife, British expat Suzanne Davies, in a house fire in Steensel in the south of the Netherlands in the summer of 1995. Sweeney claimed Suzanne was smoking in bed and this probably caused the fire.
The prosecution claims Sweeney is a clever manipulator who killed his wife for her life insurance money, estimated at more than GBP 600,000.
Jacqueline Davies, the victim’s mother, also insists Sweeney is guilty. “The moment I heard Suzanne had died I knew without doubt that she was murdered and that he [Sweeney] murdered her. I feel that justice has been done and so does everyone else involved in this case,” she said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news