Schiphol fire suspect wins settlement

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Ahmed Al-J, on trial for causing a fire in his cell in the Schiphol East alien detention center in October 2005, will be compensated by the Public Prosecution for his wrongful custody, ruled the court in The Hague, Tuesday morning. The fire cost 11 lives; Al-J himself was one of the severely wounded.

Al-J had demanded €650,000 compensation, but based on a computation model of €95 euros a day, the court calculated a compensation of €47,880 would be fair for a 504-day detention. Additionally the Prosecution also needs to reimburse part of expenses made by experts on behalf of the suspect. The prosecution argued the detention was justified, based on statements of the suspect himself, that he saw flames ignite in his cell after he flung a burning cigarette toward the end of his mattress. Al-J's trial dragged on for years until he was acquitted by the High Council last year in March, because there was no intent. Al-J was extradited to his country of birth, Libya, in 2009 and was declared 'undesirable foreign national.' Ministers Sybilla Dekker (Housing)  en Piet Hein Donner (Justice) stepped down over the case.