Man, 73, killed in 'pedo hunt'; Stop this, police say
A 73-year-old man who was beaten to death in Arnhem two weeks ago, died as a result of a "pedo hunt", in which civilians lure a suspected pedophile to a location to assault them, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said. This has to stop before there are any more deaths, prosecutor John Lucas and police chief Oscar Dros said to newspaper AD.
According to the OM, the 73-year-old man had made an appointment to have sex with a minor, though it is unclear whether he knew he was meeting with a 15-year-old boy. The retired teacher was badly beaten on the street. He was rushed to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. A total of seven suspects were arrested, one 18-year-old and six minors. Four of them are still in custody.
"I am very shocked by the seriousness of this incident. This is very rough," Dros, police chief in Oost-Nederland, said to AD. In October, the police called on "pedo hunters" to comply with the law. After the death of the elderly man, the police and OM decided to ban any form of pedo hunting. "Our message to citizens is: Stop pedo hunting. Stop detaining. Stop provoking. Leave this to us."
Dros and Lucas are responsible for the national civil investigation portfolio. Since July, they've registered 250 incidents involving pedo hunters. "This varies from forcing off the road to assault, threats and public shaming of people on the internet. These are only the incidents we know about. There are probably many more," Dros said. According to him, pedo hunting has no effect. Because the evidence these citizens believe they have is often paper thin. "I don't know of a single example in my police unit that led to the conviction of a child molester."
Lawyer Jamil Roethof, who is representing a 15-year-old suspect in the 73-year-old man's death, told De Gelderlander that the meeting between the teenagers and the man was "not by chance". But the term pedo hunting is not appropriate in this case, according to him.
De Gelderlander wrote that the man responded to a call on a chat room for homosexuals, to have sexual contact with a 15-year-old boy. That call was posted by the suspected teenagers, who was inspired by all the stories about the pedo hunting phenomenon, Roethof said. "The fact that a group of teenagers wanted to confront an adult man that made a date with a 15-year-old does not mean that they also had a preconceived plan to commit violence," the lawyer said.
According to him, his client did not assault the man. Roethof also said that it seems the victim died from an accidental fall and not from the blows he received. "My client got carried away. He was involved in the chat appointment, but did not participate in the assault. He was present when the victim came to the appointment and they confronted him about it."
Roethof told the Gelderlander that the idea to hunt pedophiles came from "boredom in this corona time".