Prosecutor boss wants higher penalties for manslaughter

Since the maximum penalty for murder was increased from 20 to 30 years in prison, the gap with the maximum sentence for manslaughter has become too large, Gerrit van der Burg, the chief executive at the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said to Trouw on Thursday. He wants to increase the maximum prison sentence for manslaughter, which is currently 15 years.

Van der Burg understands why the maximum penalty for murder had to be increased, he said. "Twenty years still sounds like a punishment that is manageable. If you talk about 30 years, it really is different."  But now the difference with the maximum punishment for manslaughter needs to be "more straightened out". 

The legal difference between murder and manslaughter lies with intent. For murder, the Prosecutor needs to prove that the perpetrator worked on a premeditated plan - that they intended to kill someone. Perpetrators of manslaughter acted on impulse. 

The court in Rotterdam also called for the punishment for manslaughter to be increased after Bekir E. was convicted of manslaughter for killing 16-year-old Humeyra at her school. The court saw insufficient evidence to prove premeditation, and therefore could only sentence him to 14 years in prison with institutionalized psychiatric treatment.