SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Two teenage boys have been found guilty of starting a fire in a block of flats at New Year that killed a father and son. The boys, then aged 12 and 13, were setting off fireworks in the lobby of the apartment building in Arnhem’s Gelderseplein in the early hours of January 1.
The 39-year-old man and his four-year-old son died in a lift that became stuck when the power failed. The boy’s mother and sister were also in the lift but survived the fire.
Prosecutors argued that the teenagers, who lived in the block, had started the fire deliberately, but the court decided this was not their intention. No punishment was imposed, but their parents were ordered to pay €90,000 compensation to the victims.
The prosecution had demanded a 60-hour community work order. The court said it had taken into account the children’s age, their feelings of guilt and shame and the fact that they had to move to a new house as a result of the fire.
The housing association that owns the building implemented a number of extra safety measures in the wake of the fire, such as installing smoke detectors in every apartment and informing all residents about escape routes and fire safety.
However, an investigation concluded that there were no serious shortcomings in safety procedures.