THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch court convicted five teens Tuesday for their involvement in the fatal beating of a 73-year-old man in what they described as a “pedophile hunt.”
“By acting as their own judge, the boys seriously violated the rule of law,” Gelderland Court said in a statement. “With this crime, they caused unrest and insecurity in society.”
The death of the retired teacher in October last year in the city of Arnhem led to an outpouring of anger and grief among friends and former pupils.
The youths, whose identities were not released, were given sentences ranging from six months to a year in juvenile detention. Their ages ranged from 15 to 19 years.
Two were sentenced to a year, with half of the sentences suspended; three more were given six-month suspended sentences and ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid community work. They also were ordered to pay some 60,000 euros ($72,000) in damages to the victim’s three sons.
The convictions followed a number of similar attacks in which youths made contact with men they suspected were pedophiles in chat rooms and then attacked them.
“What the suspects have done is act as their own judge,” the court said in its written judgment. “They lured somebody, decided themselves that the person was a ‘pedo,’ that he therefore should be punished and they immediately meted out the punishment.”
The court cited text messages that made clear that the victim, a former teacher, had said that he did not want to meet a 15-year-old boy because that was “too young.”