A short while back René Diekstra argued that for any death where suicide is suspected but a small amount of doubt might exist, a forensic autopsy would be useful in determining cause of death. He explicitly argued that cause of death (homicide, suicide, accident, or natural causes) cannot be determined by method of dying (e.g. hanging, stabbing, shooting, etc.).
On July 6th earlier this year, Iris van den Hooff was found hanging in her apartment in Groningen. Within 24 hours the police and the public attorney conclude that Iris committed suicide. Yet neighbours heard a fight in her apartment and Iris had been received threatening notes. This made Iris’ family suspicious of her alleged suicide.
The public attorney refused to consider reopening the case, so Iris’ family with their lawyer Richard Korver to the mayor to request her body be exhumed for a forensic autopsy. Something the police and the public attorney did not deem necessary as it was “just” a suicide and therefore not a matter for further criminal investigation. The mayor granted the family the rights to exhume her.
Today Richard Korver revealed that the forensic autopsy does not support the conclusion of suicide. He does suspect a homicide.The public attorney still does not see any reason to reopen the case. To force the public attorney to properly investigate Iris’ death, Korver started an article 12-procedure: a request to the court to order the public attorney to investigate the case. This is the only legal route someone has in the Netherlands to reopen/start an investigation. This option is not cheap (cost for lawyers, court, forensic expert, etc.) which means that most people won’t be able to fight a conclusion of the police and public attorney. Iris’ friends and family therefore have started a fundraiser.
Update 2014.11.26 – There are indications crucial evidence might have already been destroyed by the police and public attorney, including her ripped clothes and dog leash she was found with.