Pimping suspect a flight risk in teen girl prostitution case

Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton). (Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton))

The man suspected of pimping a 16 year old girl to as many as 80 men in Limburg was remanded into custody today. The court in Maastricht called the suspect, Armin A., both a flight risk and at risk of committing the crime again, according to Hart van Nederland.

A. stands accused of inciting a 16 year old girl into prostitution. The girl had sex with dozens of adult men in a hotel in Valkenburg. This case came to light in January. As many as 80 men have been implicated. At the beginning of this case, Justice announced that the girl's clients will also be prosecuted. Two of these clients have since committed suicide. The Public Prosecutor has dropped 3 of the 4 charges against A. due to a lack  of evidence.

Today's sitting was a pretrial hearing, partially intended to take inventory of the state of the investigation.

According to the Public Prosecutor, A.took erotic photos of the 16 year old girl, placed advertisements for her services and rented the room in which she had sex with the implicated men, RTL reporter Jeroen Wetzels reports via a live Twitter feed from within the trial. A. also negotiated with the girl's clients over price and which services the girl would perform.

A.'s lawyer Arthur Vonkel previously stated that the initiative for the prostitution came from the girl. His client refused her repeatedly, but she kept on asking. A. eventually agreed to help for her safety. According to the Public Prosecutor in court today: "Even if an underage girl takes the initiative to prostitution, it is a punishable offense to help her."

Vonkel began his turn by stating that the Public Prosecutor's behavior in January made the case a media spectacle, and suggested that this behavior led to the suicide of two of the implicated men. According to the Vonkel, the media attention and the two suicides have affected his client greatly.

Vonkel then quoted from interviews with the 16 year old girl. She stated that she earned about 3 thousand euro with the prostitution. Vonkel stated again that she initiated the prostitution herself and was not forced in any way. "Armin was never aggressive. I never saw the work as abuse." she said in one interview. He also said that interviews with clients gave no sign of her being forced. A.'s lawyer asked that his client be released.

The Prosecutor argued that A. should remain in custody as there are "serious concerns with regard to human trafficking". "We find it unacceptable that this suspect should be allowed to await his trial in freedom." The prosecutor stated that his punishment should be substantial, much more than the time he's already spent in custody. The court eventually ruled in the favor of the Prosecutor on this point.

When A. had a chance to speak, he stated that the news of the suicides caused him to sleep badly for days. "I'm portrayed in the media as a monster. Friends of mine do not want to see me." he said. "I want to reiterate that I find what happened really awful. It was stupid that I didn't inform the parents."