[QODLink]
Europe
Dutchman held in child abuse case
Police arrest 27-year-old man in what is feared to be one of the worst cases of child abuse in the Netherlands.
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2010 21:37 GMT

The suspect worked as a substitute teacher at Amsterdam preschools and also offered baby-sitting services [AFP]

A 27-year-old man who worked in at least two nursery schools has been arrested in Amsterdam on suspicion of abusing up to 50 young children.

Robert M. was identified and arrested by police in the Netherlands last week and more than 50 parents were contacted on Sunday.

The suspect worked as a substitute teacher at the preschools in the city and also offered baby-sitting services online.

It is feared to be one of the worst cases of child abuse in the Netherlands, Eberhard van der Laan, the city's mayor, said at a late-night press conference on Sunday.

"This is about a serious suspicion of grave abuse by a man who was arrested on Tuesday and has been held since then," Van der Laan said.

"I see it as my most important job to inform parents as well as I possibly can," he added.

The suspect in the Amsterdam case was arrested after a Dutch police television programme aired what it said was an image of an unidentified victim of child pornography.

US authorities seized the image in a separate investigation and told their Dutch counterparts it was made in the Netherlands, Herman Bolhaar, the Dutch chief prosecutor, said.

The victim's parents identified their child from the television image and called police, leading to the suspect's arrest the same night, Bolhaar said.

Suspect's confession

The man's computers containing child pornography were seized and he has since confessed to dozens of sex crimes allegedly committed over the past year and a half, Bolhaar said.

The victims were boys and girls under four years old, he added.

Dutch media reported on Monday that a mother who had suspected that her child had been abused at one of the nurseries filed a complaint in 2008. She said she had not been taken seriously by either the nursery or the police.

Rob van der Veen, an Amsterdam police spokesman, said police were still seeking more witnesses and information in the ongoing investigation, with more arrests possible.

Mayor Van der Laan urged media not to publish photographs of the children possibly affected, and to be reserved in contacting their parents.

Police identified the suspect as a Dutch citizen originally from Riga, Latvia, and also published his photo - an unusual step, as privacy laws usually prevent publication of photographs of suspects in the Netherlands.

Van der Laan said that the photo had been released in part to reassure the thousands of parents in Amsterdam whose children were not affected.

"At the same time we want to alert others that it indeed was their babysitter," he said.

A press statement published by Interpol from Lyon, France, identified the suspect as Robert M., citing Dutch prosecutors.

Interpol said it had helped authorities in the Netherlands confirm that the image seized by American investigators was of a Dutch child.

Bolhaar noted the suspect was a specialist in encryption and his computers had sophisticated protection.

A candle was left on Sunday night on the steps of one of the affected day care centers. An attached note bore the single word: "terrible".

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list