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Preventing Escalation Violence

GELEEN In the investigation into the violent death of Fer Loontjens of Geleen, the police may have prevented a further escalation of violence in that city.At almost the same time as that at which Loontjens died in the AZM in Maastricht on Saturday, Feb. 16, the police raided a house in Geleen with seven men. The investigators had concrete indications that the occupant, a key witness to Loontjens' manslaughter, had armed himself. He is said to have made arrangements with another witness to that effect. After the police searched in vain for weapons, the man was released again. The man's lawyer confirmed the arrest. The prosecution does not want to say anything about the matter. On Sunday evening, Feb. 3, the person involved was one of dozens present in café 't Vlaegelke where Fer Loontjens got into an argument with a group of other visitors. Loontjens died on Feb. 16 as a result of that brawl. The police learned through telephone taps that the Geleen resident and a second witness were planning to purchase a gun and ammunition. It became clear from the overheard conversations between them that they wanted to arm themselves for fear of reprisals from the suspects about whom they had testified. Lawyer Peer Szymkowiak of prime suspect Stephan S. wonders how real the fear of the witnesses actually is: "If it is real, then the police are handling it in a very strange way by naming and shaming all the witnesses in

include the file." The two witnesses who wanted to buy a gun also talked over the phone about putting together a bang squad. In one of the edited tapes available to this newspaper, the younger one says he will "shoot them to pieces when they are released."

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