Police, ministers and the public prosecution department have called on vigilante groups to stop hunting down people they consider to be paedophiles, following the death of a 73-year-old man.
The man, a retired teacher from Arnhem, died two weeks ago after being beaten up by a group of teenagers who had set him up online to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex. It is unclear if he knew the youth was a minor and four of the teenagers remain in custody.
The public prosecution department confirmed on Thursday that the man was the victim of a ‘pedo hunt’ and justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus has urged people to stop taking the law into their own hands.
Meanwhile, regional police chief Oscar Dros told the AD on Friday that officials fear more people will die. ‘Our message is to stop hunting paedophiles, stop detaining them, stop trying to trap them and leave this to us,’ he said. ‘In my region, I know of no cases where this had led to the conviction of a child abuser.’
Some 250 incidents involving vigilante groups have been recorded since July, he said. ‘These vary from cutting them off in cars to physical abuse and threats about public exposure,’ he said. ‘These are only the incidents we know about. There are probably far more.’
Police have had to help some people who have been outed as paedophiles to go into hiding because of the threats, he said. In addition, he said, the time it takes dealing with vigilantes could be better spent preventing child abuse.
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