Top Spanish court clears Dutch man imprisoned for rape since 2005
A Dutch man sent to prison in Spain 12 years ago for rape was acquitted on appeal Wednesday after the highest court in Spain threw out his conviction, according to broadcaster NOS. Romano van der Dussen was convicted of raping one woman in Fuengirola, and the sexual assault and robbery of two others at a fairground. All three attacks happened in August 2003.
Now 43, Van der Dussen always maintained his innocence, even when he was convicted in 2005. DNA evidence linked British man Mark Dixie to the crimes as far back as 2007.
The court, Spain’s Tribunal Supremo, tossed out the conviction for the rape. A decision on the other two cases is still pending. Judges that have ruled on the cases in the past stated their belief that all three crimes was committed by the same person, NOS reported.
The Dutch man is likely to be freed from prison soon. Rob van der Dussen, Romano’s father, was said to be stunned by the news. His son's life is a "living hell" in the Spanish prison, where "inmates regard him as the lowest of the low," he said.
Despite his fingerprints not matching any found at the three crime scenes, two of the victims identified him in a lineup. The attacks all happened at night in poorly-lit areas, and his defense attorney claimed the lineup was stacked against the suspect as the Dutch man was the only lighter-haired person standing there.
Van der Dussen’s DNA did not match any collected at either crime scene. The DNA was linked to Dixie after he was convicted of the rape and murder of British model Sally Anne Bowman in London, England.
The case wound up in the hands of Spain’s top court over nine months ago. Then, late last year, broadcaster NOS reported that the Dutch man’s lawyer got Dixie to confess to some of the crimes for which Van der Dussen was convicted. This forced Spanish authorities to reopen the case.