Man convicted of killing Colombian girlfriend in Wassenaar hotel; 10 years in prison
The District Court of The Hague convicted 33-year-old Thanasis K. in the murder of his girlfriend, 40-year-old Colombian woman Briza Garces Florez. The Leiden man was sentenced to spend 10 years in prison after serving an undetermined period of mandatory institutionalization at a psychiatric facility, according to the court ruling published on Monday.
The victim’s body was found smeared with blood in a Wassenaar hotel room in January 2022. The body was reportedly hidden in a pile of sheets and towels. Hours later, K. was taken into custody at Schiphol Airport on allegations that he was involved in her death.
One guest at the Van der Valk Hotel in the city said he though he saw the victim and suspect involved in an altercation in the hotel’s parking lot the night before. "The man was a big guy and the woman was somewhat smaller. I saw them chasing each other and he slapped her. It was bizarre." The girlfriend of the witnes later saw the two walking hand-in-hand, but heard screams that seemed to come from their hotel room later.
Prosecutor’s alleged the woman died by strangulation at the hands of the suspect. “He violently killed his girlfriend in a hotel in Wassenaar. He made every effort to delay the discovery of her body and flee,” the court said in a statement. The court accused the man of covering up the body with bed linen to delay discovery as long as possible to make a getaway possible, and criticized him for also extending their hotel reservation by a night. He was accused of hanging a “do not disturb” sign on the door handle to discourage hotel staff from entering the room.
K. claimed self-defense, saying that he choked Garces Florez, a transgender sex worker, because she wanted to stab K. "Something may have broken in her neck," K. admitted during a preliminary court hearing. He and his partner got into an argument "over nothing," which eventually led to a fight, he claimed. "I tried to defend myself. She kept stabbing me with a hotel fork. I had my jacket on, and it had holes in it."
His use of a chokehold was not intended to kill her, but rather to subdue Garces Florez, he said. His attorney said that the victim’s use of drugs was the real reason she died that day. "It was never my intention to kill her. We couldn't live with or without each other. We should have separated much earlier. It got completely out of hand in that hotel room," K. stated. He also said his memory was hazy, possibly due to drug use at the time.
“The court determined that the victim died as a result of the injuries inflicted by the suspect,” the court said in a statement. “There was no self-defense. The court does not follow counsel's defense that the victim died from an overdose of cocaine.”
When announcing the verdict, the court reprimanded K. for not accepting responsibility for the woman’s death, and his attempt to delay the discovery of the dead woman. Journalists covering the verdict said the suspect also interrupted the judge to again claim innocence due to self-defense.
The psychiatric institutionalization was ordered because the chance of the suspect carrying out another violent crime is high, the court said in siding with experts. The 10-year prison term matches the demand from the Public Prosecution Service, which was considered due to prior convictions for domestic violence. The court also awarded damages of over 18,600 euros to one surviving relative, 17,500 euros to another, and nearly 5,600 euros to a third.
Reporting by ANP