May 28, 2020

Shop on Belgian-Dutch border off limits to both countries

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 2:24 pm

Bart Cuypers’ beer shop Bierparadijs (‘Beer Paradise’) is technically in Belgium, but only accessible from exit A16, leading to an industrial area that borders the Netherlands. Due to Covid-19, Belgium, like many other European countries, is policing its border, in this case some 100 metres from the beer shop.

Cuypers doesn’t currently have any customers, and like many other businesses he’s getting some government support to keep up the place and its employees until he’s able to operate more normally. Right now everybody wants beer but there’s no decent way to get to it.

The Dutch could get to his shop as long as they take another exit just before the border check, which is meant for people entering Belgium. However, the Dutch cannot go to Belgium without a valid reason, and jokes aside, stocking up on beer is not a valid reason. The Dutch are 98% of Cuypers’ clients, as many beers are 25% cheaper in Belgium than in the Dutch supermarkets.

Back in 2008 we told you about a murder on the border and sorting that out was quite complicated.


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April 21, 2017

Scottish murder suspect fakes Dutch accent

Filed under: Weird by Orangemaster @ 5:57 pm


Called a ‘bizarre European twang’ from a Scottish newspaper (pot, kettle, black, no?), fugitive murder suspect Harris Binotti has been faking a Dutch accent while living in Glasgow in order to stay under the radar. Even though he’s currently on Interpol’s most wanted list, Scottish police cannot arrest him unless overseas officials issue a warrant for his arrest, so he’s just hanging out now scaring the crap out of everyone.

Binotti fled Yangon, Myanmar after the death of Northern Irish colleague Gary Ferguson in November 2016, where they both taught English at a school there.

In the meantime, people living near Binotti are alarmed and the neighbours have complained about the smell of weed coming from the flat Binotti and his girlfriend are holed up in, which he’s also getting away with at the moment.

(Links: thescottishsun,

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June 2, 2014

Eric Slot’s murder atlas of Amsterdam

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:18 am


The idyllic scene you see above is part of what was the most murder-stricken street of Amsterdam in the 20th century according to Eric Slot, author of the book Moordatlas van Amsterdam, which was published in early May.

The street is called is Oudezijds Achterburgwal, located in Amsterdam’s red light district. It is the location of many a sex worker’s place of business which is why, when AT5 interviewed Slot about his book two weeks ago, the interview took place on the second most murderous street, Zeedijk—prostitutes are said to have an aversion to cameras.

The book is the culmination of two decades of studying murder in Amsterdam. It describes a thousand murders of the 1,800 or so that took place in Amsterdam since the year 1900.

According to the publisher the book “notes trends, characterises neighbourhoods, shows you which professions are dangerous and explains the popularity of the knife in Amsterdam Noord”, and more.

The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to murder with ‘only’ one murder per 100,000 inhabitants a year, but Amsterdam is one of the most ‘dangerous’ capitals of Europe with 3.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The interview of AT5 with Slot is full of interesting titbits, including the fact that the inhabitants of Amsterdam themselves aren’t very violent—the problem usually stems from outsiders coming to the city. If you understand Dutch and have 30 minutes to spare, I suggest you watch it.

(Photo by Flickr user Taver, some rights reserved)

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April 23, 2013

Google search leads to murder conviction

Filed under: IT,Online by Branko Collin @ 4:46 pm

In May last year an appeals court in Arnhem has upheld a murder verdict on the basis of the contents of the suspect’s browser history.

The court noted (PDF) that the suspect had been searching the Internet, mainly using Google, for amongst others ‘revolver’, ‘pistol’, ‘corpse delivery’ and ‘definition shot in the neck’.

In order to determine under Dutch law whether something is murder or manslaughter, the court must decided if the suspect acted with premeditation. “Following a plan that leads to the death of the victim”, the court writes, “counts as such. The court believes that lawful and convincing evidence exists that this is what the suspect did. He acquired a fire arm, found out how to use it, has looked for ways to make a corpse disappear, has searched on the internet for words like ‘death’ and ‘bullet through the head’ and has contacted the victim shortly before the latter disappeared.”

The suspect was convicted to 18 years imprisonment.

Webwereld reports that its sister publication Computerwereld and two scientists of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have made an inventory of the cases in which the browser history of the suspect made the difference between a murder and a manslaughter verdict. They found at least five such cases. According to Webwereld, this difference can lead to 8 years more gaol time. Suspects searched for phrases like ‘murder without evidence’ and ‘getting away with murder’—oh, the irony.

(Photo by Flickr user nathanmac87, some rights reserved)

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June 12, 2011

96 year old WW II hero admits to post-war killing

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 12:43 pm

“During one of the first days of this year” Atie Ridder-Visser sent a letter to the mayor of Leiden admitting that she had shot dead Felix Guljé on March 1, 1946, mayor of Leiden Henri Lenferink reported last Wednesday.

In the final years of the occupation (1944,1945) Ridder-Visser had been part of an underground team that located and assassinated traitors. Guljé, owner of a construction company, collaborated with the Nazis in the open but was a resistance member in secret. As he had several high-ranking members of the Dutch Nazi party NSB on the payroll, he could not openly defy the Germans.

So many threads coming together in this one—also echoes of both Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down and Couperus’ Old People and the Things that Pass here—it would take me a day to make something coherent in English of it. If you read Dutch, follow the link above. The mayor took trouble to tell the story in detail.

As the statute of limitations which was in force at the time of the execution has passed, Ridder-Visser will not be prosecuted. The statute of limitations was dropped for serious crimes in the Netherlands in 2006, but not retro-actively.

Link: Kulture Live.

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March 27, 2010

Angel of Death, unemployed prosecuted, Superbus – updates

Filed under: Automobiles,Health by Branko Collin @ 12:29 pm

Here are some interesting updates of past 24 Oranges stories.

* Lucia de Berk, the serial killer seemingly convicted on the basis of flawed statistics, received some good news today. Now that her case has been re-opened, the public prosecutor has asked the court to free her and drop all charges against the former nurse.

In 2004 De Berk, nicknamed Angel of Death, received a life sentence for seven murders and three attempted murders of patients under her care. Rather than proving murders had taken place, the prosecution shopped for natural deaths that could pass for suspicious, and if it turned out that De Berk had been working when the alleged victims died, added them to its list. After statisticians brought their objections to this method to public attention, the supreme court decided to let a lower court re-open the case.

The verdict has been announced for April 14.

* Minister Donner of the department of Social Affairs has been told by parliament to re-open the cases of unemployed entrepreneurs who were accused of fraud and sometimes prosecuted for it by UWV, the same organisation that had been feeding them false information that led to this ‘fraud’ in the first place.

The accused were participating in a work re-integration programme that allowed them to set up their own companies while still receiving benefits during the incubation phase. They received benefits for the difference between hours worked and hours available for work, where UWV initially defined ‘hours worked’ as ‘hours billed.’ However, the law says that non-billable hours also count as ‘hours worked.’

UWV (formerly known as GAK) is a private institute that is tasked with distributing unemployment benefits under the supervision of Donner’s department. When the minister pointed out that opening dossiers of already convicted felons was ‘impossible,’ that only seemed to rub parliament the wrong way, according to NRC.

* The Delft students that designed the eco-friendly Superbus are currently building a working prototype. In 2009, after extensive testing on a track, the chassis was built (see image).

The Superbus is a 15-metre-long vehicle that fits 23 passengers. It drives over a dedicated, cheap, concrete lane and doesn’t use bus stops. Instead, prospective passengers indicate where and when they want to board, and presumably the driver caters to these wishes. The Superbus is electrically powered, using lithium polymer battery packs and regenerative braking. Its top speed is 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph). Top Gear, are you reading this?

(Source photo: Superbus)

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August 15, 2009

Lucia de B., angel or witch? [HAR 2009]

Filed under: Science by Branko Collin @ 10:35 pm

I just turned away from the lock-picking talk, as the tent was absolutely packed (me being 5 minutes late). I don’t know how many people fit in these convention tents, hundreds, perhaps thousands, but that is the amount of people that after tonight may know how to break every lock you own.

Earlier today I was at the talk with possibly the smallest amount of listeners of this 4-day exercise, you might even say the attendants resembled Cantor Dust. OK, lousy statistical jokes aside, this talk was by statistician Richard Gill of the University of Leiden and dealt with the Lucia de Berk case.

I had heard of the case before. In 2001, a nurse from The Hague was accused of having murdered dozens of patients, and the strange thing was that most of her guilt was determined by statistics: she had been near the victims at the time of their deaths, and although a direct link with the accused in the form of a confession or evidence could not be established, the court found that the statistical likelihood of her being near all these victims at the time of death was so minute, she must have done it.

At the time I thought this reasoning seemed silly, but I have learned early on in life never to argue with statisticians. So imagine my surprise: here was a statician who argued that the court’s reason had indeed been extremely silly, and that an innocent woman had gone to jail.

I won’t bore you with repeating the entire lecture: author Maarten ‘t Hart summarized Gill’s position excellently in this article from NRC (Dutch). Gill’s paper on how likely the chance is that a nurse was on active duty during all deaths concludes that one in nine nurses would have gone to jail (PDF).


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