Footage released in search for arsonists in fatal Diemen fire

Arson suspects in a fatal fire in a Diemen apartment building, 19 July 2017
Arson suspects in a fatal fire in a Diemen apartment building, 19 July 2017Photo: Politie

The police released surveillance camera footage showing two men believed to be responsible for a fatal fire in a Diemen apartment building in July. Student David Swart, 27, was killed in the fire and his girlfriend was seriously injured. 

The footage released on Opsporing Verzocht on Tuesday, was recorded by surveillance cameras inside the apartment building on Rode Kruislaan on the day of the fire, July 19th. It shows two men wearing dark clothing. They can be seen trying to break open several doors. At one point there is an explosion, blowing open an interlocking door. This door is usually closed to stop fire spreading. But as the door stood open, smoke spread very quickly through the building during the fire, according to the police.

Shortly after the fire, the police arrested a 24-year-old man. The police believe he is one of the men on the video footage. He had a burn wound at the time of the arrest, but so far refused to tell the police anything. Investigators are still looking for the second suspect. The Public Prosecutor offered a 10 thousand euro reward for information that leads to the resolution of this case.

So far the motive for the fire is unclear. Investigators are considering several scenarios, including a relationship conflict, insurance fraud or an attempt to mask evidence of a burglary. 

David Swart's mother, Esther Schoen, recently announced that she is holding the fire department responsible for the death of her son. The student's body and his seriously injured girlfriend were found on the 12th floor of the apartment building, hours after the fire started and only after the fire department had it under control. An investigation by the Institute of Physical Security concluded that, due to a miscommunication, firefighters only evacuated the first seven floors of the building. They didn't know that there was a second stairwell, leading up to the higher floors.


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