Crowdfunding raises €10,000 for Dutchman imprisoned in Spain

LEGAL foundation PrisonLaw has raised €10,000 through crowdfunding to pay for legal aid for a man who has spent 11 years in jail for two rapes he claims he did not commit. 

Romano Liberto van der Dussen, 42, was sentenced by Malaga Provincial Court to 15-and-a-half years in prison for sexual assault, robbery and causing bodily harm. 

He has always denied the charges and refused to enter a rehabilitation programme for rapists as he says this would amount to admitting he was guilty. Therefore, he has never been granted parole and is currently in prison in Mallorca. 

On August 10, 2003, three young women were beaten and sexually assaulted in identical attacks in different areas of Fuengirola, in Malaga Province, and DNA from an unknown man was found on one of the victims. 

The Dutchman was arrested on September 2 that year based on a photo ID. According to his lawyer, he was on police files for having attacked his ex-girlfriend and a prostitute. However, his DNA, provided voluntarily, did not match the sample found.

In 2007, a DNA match was found to Briton Mark Philip Dixie, arrested in the UK for raping and strangling 18-year-old model Sally Ann Bowman in 2005 and sentenced to 34 years in prison. He physically resembles the Dutchman and has admitted that he may be linked to the events in Fuengirola, where he was living in 2003. 

Despite the Spanish authorities knowing this, the Supreme Court will not yet annul the sentence and says that the DNA evidence which could prove the Dutchman innocent needs to be confirmed a second time by a forensic scientist in the UK and also compared by the Spanish police. If it is confirmed Dixie’s DNA matches the samples from the crime scene, Van der Dussen can then request another revision.

PrisonLaw is a foundation which supports Dutch prisoners abroad. Van der Dussen was not brought back to Holland to serve his sentence because “he lived in Spain at the time of his arrest,” the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

Dutch MP Pieter Omzigt has criticised the British and Spanish authorities over the ‘judicial failures’ and written to the Council of Europe regarding the case. 

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