Police, protesters clash in Netherlands over death of Caribbean man after arrest

by Reuters
Monday, 29 June 2015 21:01 GMT

(Adds violent protest)

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM, June 29 (Reuters) - Violence broke out in The Hague on Monday as police clashed with protesters demonstrating against the death of a man from the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba after he was arrested by police at a music festival.

About 200 people marched to a police station on Monday night. The protesters threw rocks and police charged the crowd with truncheons. It was not immediately clear if there were injuries.

Earlier, Dutch prosecutors launched an inquiry into the man's death.

Videos posted on social media showed him pinned to the ground by five white male Dutch officers, prompting comparisons with incidents in the United States that have led to protests and riots over police use of force against black suspects.

Prosecutors initially said in a statement on Sunday the 42-year-old "became unwell on the way to jail" and was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

In the videos, one officer can be seen using choke-hold to subdue the man, identified by media in the Netherlands and Aruba as Mitch Henriquez. He appears to be unconscious before being loaded into a police van. One officer is seen checking for a pulse.

Prosecutors said he was arrested on Saturday evening because he shouted that he had a gun and then resisted arrest.

"Therefore the police used force against the man to bring him to the police station," a statement said.

Prosecutors announced his death in a Hague hospital on Sunday.

An eyewitness told FunX radio on Monday the man appeared intoxicated when he was tackled by police.

"What we saw is that the man appeared very drunk, and was immediately thrown to the ground," Esther de Ruiter said.

"He was being kicked, struck on the head and on the legs with a baton," she said.

De Ruiter said the man had not offered any resistance.

Dutch Home Affairs Minister Ronald Plasterk called Aruba's prime minister about the incident. He assured Aruban officials that an independent investigation will be conducted, a government statement said.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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