LELYSTAD, Netherlands (CN) — Judges in the Netherlands found Friday there was only enough evidence to convict one man of manslaughter for a deadly drunken brawl on a Spanish island, while seven other suspects were found guilty on lesser charges.
The 20-year-old defendant known as Sanil B. – per Dutch law, full names of suspects are not revealed publicly – was sentenced to 7 years in jail for his role in the death of Carlo Heuvelman on the island of Mallorca in 2021.
Two other men were acquitted of the killing but given 30-month sentences for assault. One of them, 19-year-old Hein B., cried as he waved to his family while being escorted from the courtroom after the hearing. Five others were convicted of less serious charges.
The defendants, all between the ages of 18 and 20, were on vacation when a fight broke out over a bar stool late in the evening on July 13. The altercation continued into the early morning hours of July 14, leaving 27-year-old Heuvelman dead.
"The signal to suspects and others must be: this kind of senseless and extreme group violence will be severely punished," Presiding Judge Remco Hoekstra said in reading out the verdict before a packed courtroom in the small northern city of Lelystad.
The perpetrators and victim are Dutch and a Spanish judge requested the Netherlands take over the legal proceedings under a 1959 treaty letting European countries request legal assistance from one another, including shifting a trial to another jurisdiction. The incident garnered tremendous media attention in the Netherlands.
Sanil B.'s conviction hinged on DNA evidence found on his shoe. A Spanish medical examiner concluded it was most likely that Heuvelman died after being kicked in the head. In cellphone video taken of the brawl, he can be seen lying still on the ground while two women attempt to help him. A voice can be heard shouting “What the fuck?” in Dutch.
According to the court, there was insufficient evidence to convict the two other men charged with manslaughter. There was no DNA evidence to connect them to the crime and the chaotic nature of the event made ascertaining precisely what happened that summer evening difficult.
Only one of the defendants was found fully innocent. Counsel for Martijn T. argued he had not participated in the brawl and his only involvement was trying to get his friends to stop fighting. The judges agreed, citing a lack of photo or video evidence.
Heuvelman’s family, who last month made emotionally intense statements to the court about their loss, had mixed feelings about the verdict, according to their lawyer Edwin Bosch.
"Seven years, 10 years, they won't get their loved one back," he told reporters after the hearing.
The father of Sanil B. also spoke to reporters, saying the sentence is unfair. “They have destroyed my son's future,” Younnes B. said.
Lawyers for at least three of the men have indicated they plan to appeal. The prosecution could appeal as well, on the acquittals of two men for manslaughter as well as the sentencing.
“There will probably be a number of appeals. The book never closes completely,” Bosch said.
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