They are just 14, 16 and 17 but they are charged with a gruesome murder. A killing that was well planned, and paid for. The trial began yesterday in a case that has caused widespread shock and dismay in the Netherlands and has become known as the “Facebook Murder”.
The three teenagers from the Chinese community in the Netherlands are standing trial for the murder of another Chinese teenager 15-year-old Joyce Winsie Hau. She was stabbed to death at her home in January, following a dispute with her best friend on Facebook.
Winsie allegedly gossiped about the sexual escapades of her closest friend, 16-year-old Polly, on Facebook and other social media .Polly became so angry that she and her boyfriend decided Winsie must pay for the insults. They hired another Chinese-Dutch boy, 15-year-old Jinhua, to murder her.
They 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.
In a letter to the judge, Winsie’s father wrote, “I ask myself every day how these people could have killed her just because of a dispute. I notice that children are becoming more and more violent. They’re not respectful. They don’t think about others. I hope that you, as judge, politicians, parents and our entire society will do something to stop this.”
The “Facebook murder”is unprecedented in the Netherlands because it is being heard in public despite the fact that the suspects are minors. It has sparked a discussion about the role of social media and the online behaviour of teenagers.
The public prosecutor is seeking one year imprisonment for the murderer, followed by involuntary juvenile commitment. The trial of the two other suspects in the case is taking place today.