News - February 7, 2018

Forum incident suspect can’t stay and can’t leave

Albert Sikkema

The student who is accused of wounding two people in the Forum on Thursday 18 January has been released. The university does not want him attending classes while he awaits trial. But he cannot return to his own country.

The mentally unstable student who attacked a fellow student in the Forum on 18 January was arrested shortly afterwards near the Droevendaalsesteeg student accommodation. © Wilfrey van der Linden

The 28-year-old international student is suspected of stabbing a fellow student with a tail comb and hitting a WUR employee who came between them. The court in Arnhem decided on 1 February that he did not have to remain in custody, and he was released one day later. While waiting for his court case the student, who was suffering a psychosis at the time of the attack, is banned from using alcohol or drugs. The court made that a condition of his release.

Closed ward
After the incident, the suspect stayed a few days in a closed ward of a hospital while doctors made a diagnosis. The doctors do not believe he is now a danger to himself or others. The student did not go back to his room in a student complex, however, because his flatmates do not want him back after the incident. Because he did not report immediately to housing provider Idealis, he was homeless for a few days. But Idealis has now found him another room.

Ingrid Hijman, head of the Student Service Center, would prefer to see the suspect return to his home country and be treated there. She could terminate his registration on the basis of a disturbance of the peace, but that would have far-reaching consequences. If he is not registered, his visa will run out and he will have to leave the country. And he cannot do that because the police have confiscated his passport to prevent him leaving the country before his trial. ‘We have our responsibilities as a university,’ says Hijman. ‘I don’t want the suspect to end up on the streets and be forced to remain in the Netherlands illegally.’

So Hijman does not want to deregister the suspect at this stage, which means he still has to pay his tuition and, strictly speaking, could walk back into classes on campus. WUR does not want that, though. Hijman wants to advise the student to suspend his studies for the time being, as she will tell him in a meeting with him today.

What annoys Hijman is that the police and the court do not confer with the university about the best line of action for the suspect. He seems to have landed in a story by Franz Kafka. ‘I think the institutions involved should put our heads together to decide how to deal with this situation.’

It is not known when the suspect is to appear in court.