Father Ruinerwold’s family does not understand their own criminal case

The house in Ruinerwold where the six children were held.EPA image

Gerrit-Jan van D. (68) can no longer speak after a cerebral infarction in 2016. That happened while he was still living his secret life on the farm. Van D. did not seek medical help. Behavioral experts now determine that the father suffers from “global aphasia.” He can no longer speak, write and read and has a seriously impaired language comprehension. Van D. is not able to communicate with any aid, as has recently become clear.

According to the behavioral experts, Van D. could still understand who the judge is and who the public prosecutor. He could also understand that he himself is the suspect. But the ability to learn is so limited that he cannot follow what is charged to him. For example, that he allegedly sexually assaulted his two oldest children. And that he would have robbed his six other children on the farm of their freedom and harmed their health. “He may be able to understand what is being said, but he cannot oversee the complexity,” said the psychiatrist who examined him.


The case, which is already unique, becomes even more complex. Because can you convict a suspect who is unable to understand his case himself? His lawyer Robert Snorn does not think so and has asked the court in Assen to stop the prosecution. Van D. could not get a fair trial in his condition. “I can legally tell all about these facts, but it can never be discussed with him in substance,” said Snorn.

The judge now first wants to pay a visit to Van D. and hear the experts of the Pieter Baan Center more closely. Subsequently, the judge will consider the fundamental question of whether Van D.’s case should be suspended. This almost never happens, but professor of criminal law Theo de Roos said earlier that ‘it is extremely difficult’ to reach a conviction in this case. According to De Roos, Van D. has been seriously damaged in his defense by his condition. The impact of this can be huge, he says. An unfair trial is imminent. Judges could then choose to compensate for this in favor of Van D. “The suspect cannot speak through no fault of his own.”

Van D. has been detained since last October when his secret life was discovered. One of his six children had asked for help in a pub in the village. In addition to Van D., the Austrian handyman Josef B. is also on trial. The OM sees him as a disciple of Van D. The Austrian denies all accusations and believes that they did nothing wrong.

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