Court reverses conviction in decades-old murder; Case considered a miscarriage of justice
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A court in Arnhem formally acquitted Rob B. who was previously sentenced to mandatory psychiatric institutionalization for the murder of his partner in April 2000. The case, which has come to be known in the Netherlands as the Rosmalen Apartment Murder, was reconsidered after new investigations undermined previous conclusions by forensic experts.
B. found the victim, Regie van den Hoogen (37), with her throat slit in the hallway of their shared home in the Rosmalen district of Hintham on 10 April 2000. The man has always denied involvement in her death. However, both the initial court and the appeals court in Den Bosch convicted him of manslaughter, and imposed the psychiatric institutionalization measure, which ended in 2017.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that the case should be re-tried. New research from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) found that a suicide attempt was a more likely scenario than murder or manslaughter.
The Public Prosecution Service also called for B.'s acquittal during the court hearing last month. The prosecutor called the matter "extremely painful." The Public Prosecution Service did not definitively state that the woman committed suicide. Instead, it argued that she may very well have been trying to cut something out of her neck while under the influence of delusions.
Shortly before her death, her doctor stated that she had asked B. to cut something from her neck. This statement which could have potentially exonerated B. was never used in the original trial against him. Both B. and his girlfriend suffered from psychological problems.
B.'s conviction and incarceration joins a list of the country's recent notorious cases outlining a miscarriage of justice, such as the rape and murder of flight attendant Christel Ambrosius, where two of the three men convicted were acquitted on appeal after spending seven years in prison, the OM said. They received roughly 1.8 million euros in compensation from the State.
Lucia de B., was another such case. The pediatric nurse was convicted two decades ago initially of murdering four patients and attempting to kill several others. On appeal, she was convicted of seven murders, and three counts of attempted murder, leading to a life conviction. The prosecutors’ case was later determined to be based on faulty scientific and medical reasoning, and the expert witness testimony about the astronomical statistical likelihood of the deaths happening on De B.’s watch was also debunked. Her conviction was overturned nearly seven years after receiving a life sentence. The compensation she received from the State was considered confidential.
In the case of 10-year-old Nienke Kleiss, who was killed in a park in Schiedam in 2000, Cees B. was convicted of manslaughter, and for stabbing the victim's 11-year-old friend, Maikel. He was convicted on the basis of a false confession which he repeatedly recanted, even though the statements in the confession did not match statements given by Maikel. Another man, Wik H., confessed to the crimes four years after B. went to prison.
Police were forced to reevaluate their interrogation techniques as a result, and had to come up with a different approach to victim care because of the harsh treatment Maikel endured from investigators. B. later received 600,000 euros in compensation, and Maikel was awarded an undisclosed amount.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times