Politicians have called for the rules on early prison release to be tightened up after a Polish driver who caused the death of a two-year-old girl and her grandparents was allowed out to visit his pregnant girlfriend.
The 33-year-old man travelled to Poland in April after serving nine months of a 15-month sentence, but will not return to prison because he is banned from re-entering the Netherlands.
Junior justice minister Klaas Dijkhoff turned down the initial request for prison leave, but an appeals panel overruled him, saying that the personal circumstances of the offender outweighed the interests of the victims’ relatives.
Erik Derijks, the father of two-year-old Iza Derijks, who died in the crash in 2013, told the AD he was ‘completely flabbergasted’ by the decision. ‘We can understand that there are rules to cover exceptional circumstances, but the result is that a man who has done everything from day one to escape punishment now gets a reduced sentence.’
The driver was originally ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community work, a verdict which prompted Derijks to hurl a chair across the courtroom in protest. The sentence was increased to 15 months in jail on appeal. The court heard he was driving too fast when he lost control on a bend near Meijel, Limburg, and crashed into the three victims who were out cycling.
He later fled to the UK to try to escape justice but was arrested and extradited last August.
MPs from across the political spectrum condemned the system for failing to take the needs of victims into consideration. PVV MP Gidi Markuszower called for the members of the appeal panel to be sacked: ‘At the moment offenders are protected too much while victims are left in the lurch,’ he said.
VVD MPS Foort van Oosten said the case demonstrated ‘regrettably that the system is not working well and needs to be overhauled.’ The Socialist Party and the Christian Democrats (CDA) also said the rules should be reviewed.