A 26-year-old Dutch citizen, wanted in his country on suspicion of sexual harassment of children, arrived in Israel
a year ago and has remained in the State ever since.
Dutch authorities filed a formal request, which is being reviewed these days, asking Israel to extradite the suspect. Israel and Holland have an extradition treaty ratified by the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition. "I'm afraid that Israel will become a pedophile haven," a man familiar with the suspect told Ynet. "He came here just to escape punishment."
According to reports in the Netherlands, the suspect was born to a Reform Jewish family in Amsterdam and developed a stronger connection to his Jewish heritage several years ago. He studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem while teaching at a private school. The school principal said this week that she believes in his innocence. "I heard the claims and I think that we should wait until it's decided what to do."
In 2010, the suspect returned to the Netherlands and started working as a teacher at the "Heder" Jewish
school in Amsterdam – the most highly esteemed school among the Jewish community in the Netherlands, which includes a kindergarten, an elementary school and a high school.
In 2012, a 16-year-old student told his parents that the teacher had sexually assaulted him. When the parents' claims were ignored, they turned to the media and the school announced that they "had a clarification talk with the teacher." In the same year, more students, aged less than 10, began to suffer from symptoms of anxiety, and the doctor who examined them raised a suspicion that they were also sexually harassed. According to report, only then was a police investigation launched.
Suspect teaching in Israel (Photo taken from Facebook)
The revelations, which embarrassed many members of the Jewish community, managed to break the long period of silence. Later on, the Telegraph published an extensive article on the matter, and public pressure led the school board to join the complaint filed to the police.
But then the suspect flew to Israel. "His departure is not related to the reports," his lawyer said on his website. "He announced his intent of leaving in advance and it should not be interpreted as an escape."
Iris Cohen, the newspaper's reporter in the Netherlands, discovered during a visit to Israel that the suspect lives and works in Tel Aviv, and is in the process of applying for Israeli citizenship. The workers at the food retail shop where he worked, according to the investigation, refused to comment on the report.
Cohen told Ynet that she has been getting mixed responses in the Netherlands since the publications on the subject. "This is a small community that doesn't like talking to the media. Since the release I received many calls, some supportive, some saying that I'm doing a disservice. Ultimately it's an important subject that I could not ignore."
Dutch authorities confirmed to Ynet that an extradition
request was filed to Israel late January, after sufficient evidentiary material was collected, and that they are now waiting for a reply from the Dutch Ministry of Justice.
Michal Margalit contributed to this report.