Prosecutor demands three years in jail after stabbing at ITC Hotel

| Rense Kuipers

Former UT student Yuning W. (26) is facing a prison sentence for an almost fatal stabbing at the ITC Hotel last summer. After a long court session yesterday afternoon in Almelo, the public prosecutor demanded three years in prison for attempted manslaughter and payment of more than 18,000 euros in damages to the victim, a fellow student.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK
The ITC Hotel.

W. stood trial yesterday in Almelo for two offences, an assault on 15 May 2020 and an attempted murder on 22 July 2020 of a fellow student.

After coming to UT from China in 2019, the two students were initially friends. Before the incident of 15 May 2020, cracks had already appeared in that friendship, as became clear yesterday during the hearing of the case. There was already an incident on 16 March, according to a statement by an employee of the ITC faculty. On 7 April a conversation followed between the faculty's student counsellors and the two students. The outcome: the two students should not have any contact with each other anymore.

Isolated

W. could not accept the break. Especially because, as he told the judge yesterday, he was 'feeling isolated'. 'He was my only friend with whom I could speak in my mother tongue. And because of Corona, we no longer had lectures at the university. I just sat at home, unable to talk to anyone about it.'

So on 15 May he went to see his 'friend', to catch up. W.'s friend did not want to do this and kept insulting and calling him names, according to W.. This resulted in an argument and a brawl. The victim reported W. to the police for assault. In court yesterday, the suspect emphasised that he himself had not emerged from the fight unscathed, but that his own injuries had not been sufficiently addressed.

After that 15th May, W. was no longer welcome at the ITC Hotel. The UT placed him in another accommodation and the student counselor asked him to take action and seek professional help. W. indicated yesterday in court that this was difficult for him, because of the language barrier. 'My English is very bad, that's why it is very difficult for me to get in touch with a GP or psychologist,' he claimed.

'Chinese government doesn't accept this'

In the period after 15 May, W.'s fear and anxiety grew, as the psychological report shows. The psychologist writes of W. having an unspecified depressive disorder and suspects that cultural aspects also play a role. This also appeared from W.'s subsequent testimony, in which he repeatedly mentioned the importance of his own educational achievements and the prestige of universities. He then burst into tears when the judge asked him what a prison sentence would mean to him. 'In China or Europe, I would have no chance of getting a job. In China, I am afraid I would have no chance of a life. Not me, but not my children either, if I were to get them. The Chinese government does not accept this. My goal was to obtain excellent study results in the Netherlands.'

Chat messages

This growing fear and anxiety came together on 21 July, when W. happened to bump into the victim at the Decathlon. He begged him to withdraw the charge. The victim reported this to the UT by e-mail. A day later, W. had an appointment at the ITC Hotel, with another student, to take over study books. W. wanted to print something and went to the room of the student whose books he was taking over.

According to W., he was in the room drinking two beers and listening to some music. Then, according to him, he saw chat messages on the student's computer from his former friend, who wrote 'nasty things' about W. and called on other Chinese students to stop contacting him.

How much time then passed remained unclear yesterday. But W. went to the kitchen of the twelfth floor - his old friend's floor - where he was cooking alone. What exactly happened next, only the two Chinese students know, for lack of eyewitnesses.

Demand: 36 months in prison

'What we will never find out is when the knife came into the hands of the suspect,' said the public prosecutor. 'They are too inconsistent in their statements about that.' W. said yesterday that he tapped his former friend on the shoulder, wanted to give him 300 euros to compensate for earlier phone damage during the fight on 15 May. But he felt threatened because of the knife in the victim's hands, so he grabbed a knife too. According to W., he did not mean to hurt the victim intentionally.

According to the public prosecutor, this statement did not correspond with the evidence, including DNA research and photos of 'multiple cuts, stabs and puncture wounds', including to the spleen. According to the public prosecutor, there is 'sufficient support' that the suspect wanted the victim dead at that moment. The victim saw W. coming quickly with a knife and there are traces that 'as silent witnesses fully support the consistent statement of the victim, not that of the suspect'. And, the public prosecutor emphasised again: the suspect had no reason to be on the twelfth floor of the ITC Hotel that day of 22 July 2020.

The public prosecutor's charge was not attempted murder, but attempted manslaughter, because premeditation could not be proven. The demanded prison sentence is 36 months and a compensation of over 18 thousand euro, to be paid to the victim. The court will pass judgment in a matter of two weeks. The suspect remains in custody in Lelystad.