Report: Dutch abandon citizen in U.S. prison for decades

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A 71 year old Dutchman may have been unjustly imprisoned in the United States for the past 31 years. The Ministry of Security and Justice does not want to help with arranging early release or transfer for he man.

This is according to the Volkskrant on Tuesday.

In 1986 Jaitsen Singh, a Dutchman of Surinamese descent, was convicted for he double murder of his wife and stepdaughter in their home in Ontario, California. He received two 25 year sentences for the two murders and a 6 year sentence because he hired someone to kill them. Singh has always maintained his innosence and even refused a deal for a shorter sentence in exchange for his confession.

A lawyer from PrisonLaw, the Dutch foundation that represents Dutch prisoners abroad, told the Volkskrant that several irregularities have been discovered in Singh's case. For example, the main  witness was a heroin junkie who was previously convicted for murder and who received money and a shorter sentence from the prosecutor in exchange for his testimony. Neither the judge nor the jury knew about his addiction, conviction or deal with the prosecutor. The witness later stated in writing that he wanted to retract his testimony, but died during an arrest before he could officially do so.

The prosecutor in question was later found guilty of corruption in an FBI investigation. Three other key witnesses were never questioned. DNA evidence went missing. As did the baseball bat used to kill the victims and the cloth in which the bodies were found. Singh's former lawyer also made a crucial procedural when the case was reviewed.

Due to Singh's advance age, poor health and all the irregularities in his case, Singh can be considered for parole. Singh and PrisonLaw want to prepare for his parole hearing in the Netherlands. But the Ministry of Security and Justice is refusing to help.

"According to the applicable policy, there is insufficient ties with the Netherlands for that", a ministry spokesperson said to the Volkskrant. "At the time that Mr. Singh would have committed the offense, he was already away from the Netherlands for 13 years." The Ministry's guideline is that a prisoner may not have been away from the Netherlands for more than 5 years during a conviction in order to be considered for transfer to the Netherlands. The fact that Singh has been imprisoned for more than 30 years is also a problem, according to the Ministry. Excluding a life sentence, the maximum penalty in the Netherlands is 30 years, which means that Sing would be immediately released if he is transferred.

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