Thursday 25 February 2021

Public prosecutor says Doomsday cult dad should be released

Statue of justice.


The public prosecution department said on Thursday that it wanted to drop the case against a ‘Doomsday cult’ father who kept six of his children locked up in a farmhouse for nine years in a Drenthe village because he does not have the mental capacity to understand what is going on.

Evidence from medical experts given at a preliminary hearing in Assen earlier this month also pointed to the same conclusion.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor told judges in Assen on Thursday that the decision will hit the four older children hard. ‘They have told us that they consider it very important their father be prosecuted and hope that the court will affirm what an enormous wrong has been done to them,’ the prosecutor said.

The father, 68-year-old Gerrit Jan van D, had a stroke several years before the family were discovered in October 2019, after the eldest son turned up at a bar in the nearby village of Ruinerwold. Then the story of how he and his five siblings had been held captive by their father for nine years gradually emerged.

Evil spirits

At a previous hearing in January 2020, prosecutors said Van D. had run the household as a religious commune, punishing his children for ‘evil spirits’ by refusing to feed them or putting them into solitary confinement. Van D is accused of the false imprisonment and the sexual abuse of his children.

A statement by the four older children was read out in court on Thursday. In it, they said that their father still has control over their younger siblings. ‘People say he is no longer a danger but that is not so,’ the statement said.

‘We have been systematically indoctrinated by him since birth. The youngest have no resistance… we would like to see a safe distance between him and our brothers and sisters so they can develop into individuals with their own future.’

The final decision on whether or not Van D should face trial will be made by the court on March 4.

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