Attorney Henriquez family upset with prosecution

POSTED: 02/29/16 6:06 PM

Pro forma hearing suspect policemen behind closed doors

HILVERSUM – Gerald Roethof, one of the attorneys of the family of the late Mitch Henriquez, is irritated by actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Pieter Hofmann reports on Caribisch Netwerk. On February 29, the attorneys for the five police officers who are suspects in Henriquez’ death, will be able to submit their wishes for the investigation. This happens behind closed doors. The attorneys for Henriquez’ family have no access to this hearing.

According to the prosecutor’s office pro forma hearings are by law behind closed doors. “In fact they are part of an ongoing investigation. It takes place behind closed doors to prevent interference with the investigation,” says spokeswoman Ilse de Heer. “Only the Judge of Instruction, the prosecutor and the attorneys of the suspect are present.”

“It is a choice by the prosecutor’s office,” says Roethof. “I would have liked to see this happen differently. We have fought long and hard for public criminal trials, the way it should be in a democratic society. This does not have my preference – and I am expressing myself very carefully here.”

“Unfortunately, as the attorney for victims or their families your role is very limited,” Roethof says. He has a good idea of what he would do if he had access to the hearing. “I would follow critically what happens and I would attempt to make clear to the prosecutor where the shoe pinches as soon as I see where the attorney of the suspects is heading.”

The prosecutor’s office does not want to react to the question whether the absence of attorneys for the victim is not a missed opportunity. The prosecutor’s office also remains silent about the question whether the privacy of the suspects is being protected better because of their profession.

It is not the first time that the prosecutor’s office is the target of criticism. When Mitch Henriquez died in June 2015 due to police violence, it was criticized because it accepted a statement from the police about the incident unchanged. The police claimed in the statement that Henriquez became unwell in the police van. Video footage showed that this was not true.

In November 2015 Richard Korver criticized the prosecutor’s office slow work method. Korver is another attorney for Henriquez family. The prosecutor’s office says it still needs several months before it is ready to take a decision about prosecuting the five police officers. “We cannot say how many months this will still take,” Ilse de Heer said.

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