Man acquitted after hackers sent antisemitic threats from his computer

A Dutch judge acquitted a man who said that hackers took over his computer and posted antisemitic death threats against his Jewish neighbours, with whom he had had a decade-long dispute.

The Dutch Jewish community’s watchdog CIDI, in a statement blamed the verdict on negligence by police, saying they failed to record the multiple death threats made against Gabriela Hirschberg by her neighbour despite repeated complaints.

The Amsterdam police did not immediately reply to a query by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency requesting a reaction.

Hirschberg, 68, complained to police about the neighbour, whose ancestors come from the former Dutch colony of Surinam, for excessive noise, The Telegraaf reported. Since 2009, they filed multiple complaints against each other, including for the destruction of property.

According to the newspaper, the neighbour, who has not been named in the Dutch media, wrote multiple times about “gassing the vermin,” adding “I want to skin them and make lampshades from them” about Hirschberg and her partner, Hans Polak.

Along with the police reports, Hirschberg complained to Ymere, the housing association that owns the apartment block where she lived. In 2016, a judge ruled in favor of Ymere’s injunction to have Hirschberg, not the neighbour, evicted because of the dispute. The association said Hirschberg also had rented out a room in her apartment without permission and was over $2,000 behind on her rent. The debt has since been resolved.

Police did not record the death threats and the IP address from which they were made that she flagged to them in criminal complaints about the neighbour’s conduct, CIDI wrote. The threats have since been removed. This made it impossible for the judge ruling in the criminal trial to ascertain the neighbour was the author of the posts.

“Such negligence undermines confidence in the rule of law and the police,” CIDI wrote. “The victims strongly suspect police never took their complaint seriously.”

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