Dutch media demand press freedom around Dutch boy's murder investigation

Nicky Verstappen, murdered at age 11 in Brunssum in August 1998
https://www.politie.nl/gezocht-en-vermist/dossiers/2017/onderzoeknickyverstappen/de-zaak.htmlPhoto: Politie

Dutch media are filing summary proceedings against the court in Limburg and the municipality of Brunssum in an attempt to force more freedom of the press around the investigation into Nicky Verstappen's death. This is partly due to a review of the case planned for Tuesday that is not accessible to any journalists, NU.nl reports. 

On Tuesday the police and other parties involved will visit and examine the various places that featured in Nicky Verstappen's murder in 1998, such as the camp where Nicky was staying when he was killed and the spot where the 11-year-old boy's body was found. The court in Limburg decided that no camera crews or journalists can be present during this review. According to the court, the presence of a single camera crew can influence the "orderly course" of the viewing and "the safety of those involved".

The lawsuit is filed by the Society for Chief Editors, the Dutch association of journalists NVJ, and media NU.nl, RTL Boulevard, RTL Nieuws, NOS, Hart van Nederland, AD, De Telegraaf, and news wire ANP. They argue that openness around the case review is of great importance, partly due to the large social impact of the case. Any risks to the safety of those involved can be easily eliminated by making clear agreements about this, according to the media. 

"Public access is essential for public confidence in the judiciary", Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, the lawyer representing the media organizations, said according to NU.nl. "The decision of the court to keep the viewing behind closed doors is contrary to the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of news gathering."

Both Nicky's family and the lawyer representing suspect Jos B. stated that they share the media's position on this point, according to NU.nl. They attach great importance to the public nature of the trial against B. and see no reason to keep the media out.