Dutch man to sue govt. over 12 years unjustly spent in Spanish prison

Romano van der Dussen. (Romano van der Dussen)

Romano van der Dussen plans to sue the Dutch government for the 12 years he spent in a Spanish prison for a crime he did not commit, NRC reports. The Dutch man feels that the Netherlands was "seriously negligent" in his case and he therefore plans to demand compensation.

"The Netherlands simply let them innocently convict me, while it was already clear in 2004 that I couldn't have committed the rape", Van der Dussen said to the newspaper. A letter in NRC's possession shows that the Netherlands knew in 2004 that a DNA trace and fingerprints found in the case were not Van der Dussen's.

According to Van der Dussen, the Netherlands did nothing to help him.

Last week Van der Dussen announced his intention to demand 6 million euros in compensation from the Spanish government.

A Spanish court sentenced the Dutch man to 15.5 years in prison in 2003. He was accused of robbery and violent attempted rape of three women. One woman was actually raped. The verdict was mostly based on witness statements. Later a DNA analysis showed that the DNA found on one of the victims actually belongs to a British man who is currently imprisoned for murder.

Van der Dussen was finally released in February of this year.

Last year Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs stated that Van der Dussen received continuous and proper support from the Netherlands since 2003. According to him, the Netherlands only learned of the DNA trace that would acquit him in 2010.

According to Edwin Winkels, who wrote a book about Van der Dussen, this claim is nothing more than a cry for attention, he said to broadcaster NOS. He doubts whether a concrete claim for compensation will be submitted. Van der Dussen doesn't have a lawyer in the Netherlands. "Morover, it is unclear what kind of claim it would be."

Winkels thinks that Van der Dussen wants to make clear that he feels abandoned by the Netherlands. "He's actually saying: what did you do for me all these years?"