Cops cleared in fatal shooting during helicopter hijacking attempt

Members of a Dutch police SWAT team (Stock Photo: Politie)Members of a Dutch police SWAT team (Stock Photo: Politie)

Police officers who shot and killed a suspect in Roermond after an attempted helicopter hijacking in October 2017, will not be prosecuted for doing so. The use of their firearms was justified, the Public Prosecutor decided, reports.

The attempt to hijack the helicopter on October 11th, 2017 formed part of a plan to break Amsterdam criminal Benaouf A. out of the prison in Roermond. While chasing down the suspects, members of a SWAT team fired shots at a fleeing car, and later also at the driver of the car. The driver, a man from France, was hit and died at the scene. 

Based on investigation by the Rijksercherche, the department that handles internal investigations at government services like the police, the Public Prosecutor concluded that the SWAT team members acted lawfully and will therefore not be prosecuted. According to the Prosecutor, this was an arrest situation, in which police officers are allowed to use their service firearm if they believe a person suspected of a serious criminal offense has a weapon or is trying to flee. Both situations occurred in this case. The Prosecutor added that the SWAT team first tried to arrest the suspects in a different and less severe manner.

The officers involved and the relatives of the killed suspect were informed of this decision.

Benaouf A. is considered one of the leaders in the Amsterdam underworld. He is currently serving a 12 year long prison sentence for arranging an assassination in Antwerp in 2012. A. was transferred to the high security prison in Vught after this attempt to break him out of the Roermond prison.

A total of nine men were arrested for suspected involvement in the foiled prison break. The court acquitted five of them. The others were sentenced to up to 30 months in prison. The sentences are considerably lower than the up to nine years in prison the Public Prosecutor demanded. This is because the men had not yet started the helicopter hijacking - the police intervened before it could happen. "Because the police stopped the men before the start of the execution, the attempted hijacking and liberation can not be proven for any of the suspects", the court said.