The suspects of the fatal abuse in Mallorca will be tried in the Netherlands. Thats what the prosecutor said. Should it see enough reason to prosecute the suspects, a Dutch court will deal with the case.
Earlier today, it was announced that the Netherlands Netherlands is taking over the investigation of the violent incident on the Spanish island. That happened at the request of the Spanish investigating judge. The file ended up with the Dutch prosecution because the suspects live in that region. “The Spanish investigative judge has decided that the investigation belongs in the Netherlands. We honored that request,” Press Officer Bart Nitrauw said about that.
Such a request from abroad is unusual, experts say. In principle, it is a Spanish case because the abuse took place on Spanish territory. This gives Spain the opportunity to hear witnesses, for example, and take away. But because the victim and the group of suspects come from the Netherlands, its not that straightforward.
Nitraw has a suspicion why Spain wanted to transfer the matter to the Netherlands:
Why the Spanish Public Prosecutor chose to engage the Netherlands has not been announced by the Spanish justice. But according to Jannemieke Ouwerkerk, Professor of European Criminal Law at Leiden University, the request may have several reasons. For example, the victims next of kin may have asked the case to be dealt with in the Netherlands.
Another possibility is that Spain finds the case too complex because it involves multiple suspects. Those suspects should be extradited by the Netherlands when it comes to trial in Spain. Ouwerkerk: “Spain may have found it too complex to draw up a European Arrest Warrant per person. In such a case, it can also be transferred.” A European Arrest Warrant must be drawn up very precisely who is suspected of what facts.
Given the impact that the case also has in Spain, Ouwerkerk is somewhat surprised that the Spaniards are transferring the case. “If the victim came from Spain, it probably would have been different.”
also acknowledges criminal lawyer Bob Kaarls, specializing in international criminal cases. He says two other reasons play along. “The suspects fled Majorca on a couple and jumped and thus made the investigation for the Spaniards much harder,” he says. “I can also imagine that the authorities in Mallorca dont mind jumping for media attention about the mistreatment of tourists,” Kaarls adds.
Spain has the right to ask the Netherlands to take over the investigation and prosecution based on international agreements, which is enshrined in a European treaty. “If states agree that they choose this path, it can be legally justifiable,” says Ouwerkerk. She suspects that Spain and the Netherlands have had a lot of contact from the outset, with a view to possible transfers.
According to Kaarls, the Netherlands should have refused the takeover, but only on strictly substantive grounds. “That could have been if, for example, there should have heard all sorts of witnesses in Spain. That had become very complicated for the Dutch pros. But camera feeds are available and they are easily transferable.”
Incidentally, the transfer does not mean that the Netherlands can take over the suspects from the Spanish investigation just one to one. For example, first of all, the people who have been identified as suspects in Spain are also suspicious under Dutch law.
How the transfer will be for the suspects is still hard to tell. “As a lawyer, I would try to get the case to the Netherlands,” says Kaarls. Ouwerkerk also suggests that it would be better for the suspects to be tried here. “Its better for the suspects to follow the case in their native tongue. Here they know the terminology and the lawyer speaks the mother tongue.”
Its hard to estimate if any penalties will be higher in Spain or the Netherlands, says Kaarls. “In Spain, higher penalties are sometimes required, but there are also more opportunities for early release. People can get out of jail sooner,” he says. “It may be that the penalties in the Netherlands are lower than was the case in Spain. But the actual time to sit out doesnt have to be much different in the end.”