In the Netherlands names and current addressed of witnesses of a crime are specified in the indictment. Over the years criminals and their lawyers have started to use this convenience. After sitting out their (usually ridiculously low, touchy-feely, crime-is-a-symptom-of-socio-economic-deprivation) non-punishment, criminals had all the information needed to visit retribution on those that had dared to tell the authorities of their criminal activities.
Naturally, after a while Dutch police noticed a certain… reluctance of witnesses to come forward, pushing down even further the embarrassingly low percentage of cases solved. Hence the foundation of ‘M.’ a report-crime-anonymously hotline. It was a smashing success. Last year some 76,000 tips led to 710 cases of serious crimes solved.
That ringing success came to a crashing halt today. EN reporting from Dutch News: Crime hotline caller’s details made public.
The identity of a woman who rang a telephone crime hotline with a tip-off about a fatal stabbing has been made known to the defendant because her phone was being tapped at the time, news agency ANP reports on Monday.
The woman was considered a key witness in the case and her details ended up in official files.
‘We have spoken to the women. This is the most awful thing that can happen. She is very emotional and scared,’ Guus Wesselink, director of the hotline told ANP.
What the rather anodyne report does not tell, is that the crime in this matter was a fatal stabbing during a Caribbean Summer Carnival in Rotterdam.
The women in question was tapped, because she travelled in the immediate circles of one of the suspects (being best friends to the suspects girlfriend). Torn between not wanting to risk a good friendship and her sense of civic duty, she called ‘M.’ as the best compromise under the circumstances.
The police, listening in, took down all the details she was providing. And diligently noted down her details in the file they were preparing for prosecution. A file, which by law is made available to the defence of the suspects.
In what must be the lowest, slimiest attempt at shifting blame, the prosecutor suggested that maybe this woman should have thought things through a little better (NL): Couldn’t she have used an anonymous prepaid cell phone to make the report? Which is what made an already embarrassing fail an epic one. One is trying to put this in the perspective of gross incompetence on the part of public prosecutor and police. But one is severely tempted to think in terms of sheer malignancy.