Five Dutch policemen suspected in death of detained Aruban man
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Five Dutch policemen have been suspended and are under investigation over the death by apparent asphyxiation of a Caribbean man after his arrest at a music festival, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The death of Mitch Henriquez, 42, from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, sparked riots in The Hague on Monday after videos were posted on the Internet showing him being pinned to the ground by five white male policemen.
The circumstances were likened to incidents in the United States that sparked protests over excessive police use of force. .
Police had initially said Henriquez, who prosecutors said was detained after shouting that he had a gun, became unwell on his way to jail. But videos showed him apparently already unconscious as he was loaded into a police van.
Prosecutor Kitty Nooy told a televised news conference in The Hague that autopsy results showed Henriquez had “very probably” died of asphyxiation.”And it is presumed that this oxygen deprivation is the result of police actions,” she said.
Nooy said the autopsy on Henriquez did not turn up any indication of drug use or excessive drinking. It also turned out that Henriquez had no gun, a prosecutor’s spokeswoman said.
The five officers involved in Henriquez’s arrest have been suspended pending results of an investigation.
The Hague’s police force has previously been criticized by Amnesty International and in a 2013 Dutch TV documentary for targeting foreigners and immigrants disproportionately and with greater use of force. Police have denied racial profiling.
Amnesty International said on Wednesday the investigation in Henriquez’s case was insufficient and called for a broader inquiry into discrimination within The Hague police force.
The Dutch government has promised Aruba a full and independent investigation in the Henriquez case.