Dutch babysitter child-sex case opens
The Hague - The trial of an ex-nursery school teacher who has admitted molesting scores of youngsters and making child pornography opened in a Dutch court on Monday after an investigation spanning two continents.
The 29-year-old Latvian citizen, identified only as "Robert M" is accused of sexually abusing a total of 67 children while working in nurseries around Amsterdam between 2007 and 2009.
He also faces charges of producing vast amounts of child pornography including thousands of lewd pictures and video which were distributed to a network as far afield as Canada.
Even though the accused has admitted the charges, Dutch law still requires prosecutors to prove his guilt before judges, a court spokesperson told AFP, adding that the case was expected to last for a long time.
The trial judge said that the hearing also wanted to determine whether the defendant was part of a wider paedophile ring.
"The aim of the criminal investigation is to identify children who have been abused, to see if others are involved," Judge Frans Baudin said as the trial got under way in the Dutch capital.
"It is to see if there is an international network of people aimed at sexually abusing minors and distributing child pornography," he added.
Dutch police arrested the defendant in December 2010, a day before they arrested his partner, 39-year-old "Richard van O". Their arrests launched a massive police investigation, spanning both Europe and North America.
Canadian police arrested four men suspected of being part of Robert M's network in Canada in February, Dutch media reported, while a US-detained witness is scheduled to testify in the case, the court said in a statement.
Between 2007 and 2010, Robert M worked in nurseries in Amsterdam looking after children aged between newborn and four-years-old.
He also worked as a babysitter since 2009 and came into contact with parents through the internet, where he advertised himself to gain parents' trust.
Much of the hearings, scheduled to last until April 20, will take place behind closed doors because of the case's nature and to protect the identity of parents and children.