Investigation into wrongfully extended psychiatric detention orders

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The Amsterdam court has announced a review of all cases in which it imposed psychiatric detention orders after it emerged that Dusan van R. has been wrongfully detained at a psychiatric hospital since 1993.

In 1989, Van R. was sentenced for assaulting two women, for disturbing the peace at a social welfare office and stealing some clothes at a department store. Van R., who was psychotic, suffering from schizophrenia and addicted to drugs, was declared to be of unsound mind. The court decided he was a danger to society and imposed psychiatric detention orders.

However, as his most serious crime – shoplifting – carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, Dutch law stipulates that his psychiatric detention orders should have ended after four years as well. Instead, they were extended for a total of 18 years.

The presiding judge of the Amsterdam court, Carla Eradus, said on Monday that “The focus was always on this man’s very serious psychiatric problems...We are talking about a person who needed intensive care, and still does. This is why the original verdict imposing the psychiatric detention orders was never looked at again. Nevertheless, the extensions should never have been granted, and the judges evaluating the case in 1993 should have spotted that.”

Dusan van R, currently a patient at the Veldzicht psychiatric hospital in Balkbrug, would continue to require intensive institutional care even when released.


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