Ruinerwold father not fit to be tried for keeping family secluded for years

Gerrit Jan van D. is not able to stand trial for keeping his six children secluded on a Ruinerwold farm for years, experts from the Pieter Baan Center said in the court in Assen. The man suffered major brain damage during a cerebral infarction in 2016, making it nearly impossible to communicate with him and figure out what he does and does not understand, the four experts said, ANP reports.

Among other things, the 68-year-old man is accused of depriving six of his children of their freedom by keeping them secluded against their will on a remote farm near the Drenthe village of Ruinerwold. This was done with the help of co-suspect Josef B., the authorities believe. The kids had basically no contact with the outside world. They were discovered in October 2019.

After Van D. was arrested, the question quickly arose whether he would be able to stand trial. Last month the court itself spoke with Van D. The meeting was recorded and showed to four Pieter Baan Center experts – a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a speech therapist, and a neuro-psychologist. The video confirmed their earlier judgement that Van D. is not fit to stand trial because he understands too little, communicates too poorly, and would not be able to defend himself.

On February 18, the Public Prosecution Service and Van D.’s lawyer will take their positions in this trial. Four of his children asked to speak in court on that day – they want to have their say at least once and if the case against their father is dropped, may not have another chance. The court will determine whether or not to continue this trial on March 4.