Four Dutch men accused of 'premeditated' criminal HIV transmission via rape and injection

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Four HIV-positive men in the northern Dutch city of Groningen have been arrested, and two have been charged with rape and "premeditated severe assault," following allegations that they drugged men at sex parties and injected them with their blood. The sensational and highly unusual case has made national and international headlines.

According to Robert Witlox, Director of Holland’s main HIV and AIDS charity, HIV Vereniging Nederland, an anecdotal report from a newly diagnosed individual “having been drugged unconscious with GHB and raped” first surfaced last summer.

“At first we dismissed it,” he told UK and Ireland, “but several other people came forward with similar stories. We alerted the public health department in Groeningen who said they had heard similar stories. They put out a press release warning gay men about attending sex parties and saying they had noticed a rise in local HIV infections. We finally persuaded the first victim – who does not publicly identify as gay – to make a formal complaint to the police in January.”



In HIV, refers to the act of telling another person that you have HIV. Many people find this term stigmatising as it suggests information which is normally kept secret. The terms ‘telling’ or ‘sharing’ are more neutral.


Choosing sexual partners of the same HIV status, or restricting condomless sex to partners of the same HIV status. As a risk reduction strategy, the drawback for HIV-negative people is that they can only be certain of their HIV status when they last took a test, whereas HIV-positive people can be confident they know their status

The men, aged between 33 and 48, were arrested on May 13th and have been held for 90 days. However, the arrests were only made public on May 30th, when district police chief, Ronald Zwarter, held a press conference. He said that three men were suspected of drugging male victims and abusing them during "sex parties [where] they had unsafe sex with people they had drugged, and also that these people were injected with infected blood.” A fourth man, who claims not to be gay, is suspected of supplying the drugs.

The police chief added that two of the men had now confessed to raping and injecting men with their blood. "The motive to do this was the 'kick,' and the feeling that unsafe sex is 'pure,'" he told the Associated Press.

Prosecution spokesman, Paul Heidanus, added that the two men who confessed would face charges of rape and "premeditated severe assault," which carries a maximum 16 years prison sentence. He noted that they would not be charged with attempted murder "because of a [Dutch] Supreme Court ruling that found AIDS should no longer be seen as an inevitably fatal disease, but rather a chronic illness.”

The arrests followed five complaints from men who believe they were infected with HIV by the accused. News reports now suggest that at least twelve men have reported to the Groningen regional health authority that they may have been infected with HIV during sex parties involving the accused men.

Unlike most ‘reckless’ criminal HIV transmission cases, which have involved one individual having consensual sex with another individual, and have hinged on issues of disclosure and/or scientific evidence, this, notes Robert Witlox “is a clear case of rape and of attempted deliberate infection.”

He tells, however, that although he and representatives from the Dutch Health Ministry have emphasised to the press that “this behaviour was not typical of gay men or people with HIV...journalists are now linking the case with the fact that we have a support group called Positive and Proud where subjects like serosorting are discussed. We’ve been asked if we have any norms. We’ve said: ‘Yes, we do; we’re saying it’s not alright to rape people and deliberately infect them with HIV!’”