New proof that cops falsified evidence in Deventer murder: report

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The police's forensic team at the scene of a crime (Stock Photo: Politie). (The police's forensic team at the scene of a crime (Stock Photo: Politie))

New evidence has been found showing that police detectives falsified evidence in the case surrounding the murder of Jacqueline Wittenberg in Deventer in 1999, the Volkskrant reports based on a recently surfaced CD with more than 150 photos and reports from the criminal investigation. According to the newspaper, exculpatory fingerprints were left out, a victim photo with an exculpatory bloodstain was removed, and crucial passages were left out of the police report.

Wittenberg's accountant Ernest Louwes was convicted for her murder, but it later turned out that falsified evidence formed part of his trial. His lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops does not want to say that the police intentionally falsified evidence, but these documents show that irregularities in the investigation were not incidental, but structural in nature, he said to the newspaper. 

The newly surfaced CD, from the Technical Criminal Investigation Department, contains a draft police report about the criminal investigation in 1999. According to the Volkskrant, this draft report differs from the police report that was finally added to the case file in a few crucial ways. In the final police report, sentences were left out stating that the blade of the weapon used in the murder measures 'about 2 centimeters', while the supposed murder weapon was much broader. Another sentence left out of the final report stated that the murder weapon "had a broken or bent point", while this was not the case with the supposed knife used.

Photos from the CD clearly show that there were several fingerprints on the knife that had been designated as the murder weapon, according to the newspaper. But in the investigation report released after the murder, the two detectives who took the photos wrote that there were no fingerprints on the weapon. 

The photos also showed a bloodstain measured in the mortuary that had not been noted at the crime scene. This is not in accordance with the standard technical forensic procedure, which prescribes that blood evidence must be secured immediately at the crime scene in order to be usable for DNA investigation. 

In 2000 Ernest Louwes was acquitted of the murder of Jacqueline Wittenberg. But he was later sentenced to 12 years in prison on appeal. Three years later the trial was revised because the DNA found on the murder weapon was not the victim's. The sniffer dog test that identified Louwes as the perpetrator was also found to have been falsified. But because traces of Louwes' DNA was found on the victim's blouse, he was convicted again in 2004. 

The man was released in 2009 after serving his imposed sentence. Lawyer Knoops then submitted a new request for the case to be reviewed. That review is still ongoing. 

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