No arrests in militant right-wing group’s detention of asylum seeker

Right-wing neighborhood watch group Soldiers of Odin (SOO) announced on Facebook that the turned a criminal asylum seeker over to the police in Groningen on Sunday. The police responded to a report and found a beaten up man at the scene. So far no arrests were made.

According to the SOO, the man sexually harassed women in Winschoten. "The chapter in Groningen arrested an asylum seeker from Pekela after a raid of an hour", the group writes on Facebook. "He ensured that women and girls did not dare come out on the street for several days." The SOO writes that they handed the man over to the police.

The police say that they found only the assaulted man at the scene of a report, no one else, according to broadcaster NOS. He did not want to press assault charges. "That (the assault, ed) was probably done by the reporters, but no charges were pressed and nothing can be proven", police spokesperson Ernest Zinsmeyer said to the broadcaster. He could not confirm whether the man involved was really an asylum seeker from Pekela or whether any women were harassed.

Ronald Kiewiet, SOO member, denied to newspaper AD that members of the SOO had anything to do with beating up the man. "Where we were, there are plenty of cameras. I think the guy previously received a few punches. It wasn't us."

According to RTV Noord, the man confessed to the police that he approached a number of women to "have a chat". A woman came to the police station to report sexual assault, but changed her mind. The man was released. And as no charges were pressed from either side,  neither the man's alleged sexual harassment or the assault on him will be investigated.

The Soliders of Odin is a neighborhood watch militia that was created in Finland last year. According to the group description, they aim to protect people on the street against asylum seekers who commit a crime or harass women. This is the first time SOO reports actions against asylum seekers in the Netherlands.

The PvdA is demanding clarification on this matter from Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice. Parliamentarians Ahmed Marcouch finds it ridiculous that a group can launch a manhunt on citizens simply because they believe they behaved wrongly. He calls the group's behavior "disgusting" to broadcaster NOS.

"It can't be that these people play their own judge." he said to the broadcaster. "I submitted parliamentary questions to show that neo-Nazi-like groups can not have a free hand to hunt for migrants and refugees. That is disgusting and we should not ignore or downplay it."

The National Police stated that they've known about this group for some time and this is the first time the SOO is involved in an incident. As no charges were pressed and there is no evidence of assault, the group will not be intensely monitored. "These types of groups can serve as extra eyes and ears for us", police spokesperson Zinsmeyer said to NOS. "But we always denounce playing your own judge." He stressed the importance of evidence before anyone can be punished for a crime.