Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Facebook Murder – Social Media and Teen Assassins

The two Dutch teenagers who pushed a third to kill a girl in January have been given two years in a juvenile detention center. The pair ordered the killing after the victim gossiped about the couple’s sexual escapades on Facebook. The victim had argued for weeks with the instigator, and they had swapped multiple insults on the social networking site. All participants in the tragedy are the members the Chinese community in the Netherlands.

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The case, known in the Netherlands as the "Facebook murder", has caused widespread debate about the role of social media in violent crime.

In a case that shocked Holland and the world, the 16-year-old girl and her 18-year-old former boyfriend have been given two years in youth custody followed by three years of compulsory psychiatric therapy.

The court heard that 16-year-old Polly W was the instigator, and the judge Marcel Snijders described her as “cold and calculating.” Polly and Hau were once best friends, but when Polly and Wesley started dating, Hau posted on Facebook and several other sites that Polly got around with boys. In response, Polly and several of her friends decided to “teach Hau a lesson.”

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A court in Arnhem found that the former couple had pressured another boy, Jinhau K, to murder 15-year-old Winsie. Winsie was stabbed to death in January, at the request of Polly W and Wesley C, who were 17 and 16 respectively at the time. Their surnames have been withheld for legal reasons.

Jinhau K, who was 14 when he carried out the murder, was sentenced in September to one year in juvenile detention. This is the maximum sentence allowed for a 15-year-old. He was described by the court as having “a serious behavioral disorder with psychotic traits.”

Hau’s father, Chun nam, told a Dutch crime program that Jinhua rang his doorbell and asked to see Hau. As soon as he left the two alone, Chun nam said, Jinhua stabbed Hau. Chun nam tried to intervene and was badly slashed. Hau died in a hospital five days later.

Instigators offered Jinhua a small sum of money – reportedly less than €100 – and promised that they would pay for his drinks in future when he went out. According to the Dutch Justice Ministry, they spent weeks planning the murder, communicating with the assassin on Facebook and by phone. They gave him a note with the victim’s address and let him know when she would be home. They allegedly exerted strong pressure on him to commit the murder: if he didn’t do it, they would kill him. Jinhau denied he had been paid to carry out the killing, but said he was put under heavy pressure to do it.

The father of the victim called the punishment “ridiculous.”

The prosecution had asked for a harsher sentence under adult criminal law of five years' imprisonment and forced treatment. But the judges took the decision that both the instigators, who were also found to have personality disorders, should be sent to a special institution for juvenile offenders.

The prosecution is considering an appeal.

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