A family of six has been freed from a remote Dutch farmhouse, that has been described as “isolated from the outside world”.
Police say six people were discovered in a small “closed off” room in the house, after they received a tip-off from a young man who was “worried about his family’s living conditions”.
A man, said to be an Austrian in his late fifties, has been detained by police and is being questioned. An investigation has been launched into “possible criminal offences”.
The farmhouse is in Drenthe province in the northeast of the Netherlands. A regional TV station reports that the alarm was raised after a young, dishevelled man visited a bar in the village of Ruinerwold.
The café owner, Chris Westerbeek, told RTV Drenthe that the man, who made several visits, appeared confused and unkempt, spoke “like a child” and at one stage downed five beers in one go.
The police were called after the man said he needed help.
A police statement says it is not clear whether the people found in the house were held against their will. It’s thought they have been living there since around 2010.
According to the police, those discovered said they were a family, a father with five of his children who indicated that they were adults. They have been examined by a doctor and are being cared for. RTV Drenthe says the young people are aged between 18 and 25.
The Austrian Foreign Ministry has said the man who was arrested is a 58-year-old Austrian citizen originally from Vienna.
The farmhouse is hidden behind trees away from the main road, accessible only via a bridge over a canal. Neighbours told regional television that no-one suspected a family was living there.
Some said they occasionally tried to approach the property but never entered. They sometimes encountered a man who was polite, and say he had a dog.
Jans Keizer — who told RTV Drenthe he and his wife offered his new neighbour flowers and a bottle of wine upon his arrival — also said he subsequently thought things strange. “That gate by his bridge was always locked. You did not enter the yard. I once tried to look around with a neighbour one evening. Then we saw a camera hanging in a tree,” he is quoted as saying.
Police say they want to do their research “thoroughly and carefully”. “We have started a Large Scale Investigation Team. Investigators are examining possible criminal offences under the leadership of the Public Prosecution Service,” their statement said.__EuroNews