The Hindu – Dutch accused stymies efforts at justice for murdered British tourist

Doctors term De Wit mentally unwell; lawyers say he is manipulating judiciary

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 10 June 2017. The trial in the 2013 murder of 25-year-old British tourist Sarah Groves, has been stalled once again with lawyers and doctors divided on the condition of the accused, Richard De Wit from the Netherlands.

De Wit, 47, has been accused of stabbing Sarah Groves over 40 times on the intervening night of April 5- 6 in 2013 in a houseboat belonging to her boyfriend, Saeed Ahmad Shoda.

After 93 scheduled hearing the case remains inconclusive.

A team of psychiatrists, who examined De Wit on April 12 and April 15, 2013 were convinced that he was mentally unstable. The medical records, accessed by The Hindu, diagnose him with “paranoid schizophrenia with substance misuse”, “delusional disorder with substance misuse” or paranoid personality with substance misuse.

“The diagnosis is provisional and needs to be confirmed by corroborative history (from Netherlands),” the doctors said.

Courts misled

However, legal experts disagree and contend that De Wit is an extremely clever criminal who is exploiting the system to his advantage.

“De Wit is playing with the court. Many lawyers have failed to earn his confidence all these years. He bothers judges in the court. He is so particular about every detail, especially money matters. He is extraordinarily clever. He knows what he is doing,” lawyer Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, amicus curiae in the case, told The Hindu.

In his latest instance of refusal to cooperate with the courts, De Wit last week began a hunger strike and has stopped taking medicine for his psychiatric condition, seeking immediate hospitalisation at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital in Srinagar.

Chequered past

According to the statement recorded by doctors after the murder, De Wit was married to a Thai woman with whom he had two children “but was unemployed and on disability benefits”. He was allegedly a member of a right-wing party in the Netherlands and elected as a councillor and served as such for three years.

“He first ran away to Switzerland then to Kenya, where he started a relationship with a Kenyan national, who after five weeks claimed that she was pregnant. But Mr Richard said he could not father a child as he was being poisoned by the Dutch government for quite some time, which had rendered him impotent,” the report said.

He later left for Tanzania and then travelled to Malawi, Mozambique, Harare, Dubai and Nepal before reaching Srinagar. His passport corroborates this time line.

Apparently delusional, he told doctors that the Dutch government “continues to monitor and follow him and engage spies from his friends and relatives to keep a watch”.

On the fourth day of his Srinagar stay, De Wit met the victim Sarah Groves for the first time on the New Beauty houseboat. “He believed she might have been a part of plot and the Dutch government might have hired her to keep an eye on him. He admitted using cannabis and heroine during the stay,” the report says.

He also insisted that he “would not be given a fair trial in his country” and would be “sentenced even if proved not guilty”.

The Dutch government has denied following him.

An online campaign for justice for the victim, run her family and friends has called into question the whole.

After the hearing on Thursday, with De Wit’s latest obstruction, the family wrote: “…there have been many occasions when the trial has been called into question and could have totally collapsed. Many times, we have said ‘Can it possibly reach a safe conclusion?’.

Along the way there have been many factors that made us think that way, Richard de Wit’s physical and mental health being one of them. Current indications, once again, must call the trial into question in its current form. The consequences for us as a family of the trial collapsing are very serious indeed.”


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