Thursday 25 February 2021

Man claims to have been a virtual slave in Dutch village

Police badge and radio.

Photo: Depositphotos.com

A couple in the Overijssel village of Tubbergen have been arrested and remanded in custody in connection with an investigation into a possible case of slavery.

The couple are suspected of keeping a man, said to have mental disabilities, a virtual slave at their home on a residential caravan site for up to eight years. The man may have been forced to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for no pay, the public department statement said in a statement.

The man also says he was beaten if he failed to do his job properly and was locked up in a garden shed at night. The man eventually went to the police to report the couple.

The mayor of the eastern town, which has a population of around 21,000, told local broadcaster RTV Oost that he knew the alleged victim. ‘In a small community like this, you are more likely to know each other than in a big city,’ Mervyn Stegers said.

The public prosecution department and social affairs ministry inspectors raided the family home and a shop in Almelo earlier this week, taking away paperwork and arresting the couple and their son. He was later released without charges.

The son later told RTV Oost that the situation has been ‘wildly exaggerated’.

According to the broadcaster, the family own several second hand shops.

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