The Case of Lucia de B. should be reopened.
the Court of Appeals convicted the Dutch nurse Lucia de B. to a
life sentence, having found her guilty of
7 murders and 3 murder attempts. Although this is sometimes denied,
statistics has played a central role in the conviction (this is
explained, e.g., on the slides below). In October
2006, Richard Gill
and I criticized these statistics in a letter to a committee which had
to advise on whether or not to reopen the case.
Breaking News: October 29th, 2007, the committee advises the
Board of Procurators to start the procudure, to request a
reopening of the case. Here is an English
language press release of the public ministry.
For more details (in Dutch), about my involvement in and opinion on
the case, click here and
Some more links witnessing my involvement:
Note that I have not and will not make any public statement about
whether or not I believe that Lucia de
B. is guilty; but, having studied the case in great detail, from my area of expertise (statistics and
uncertain reasoning) I can safely say that she did not have a fair
trial. Several very serious mistakes were made, and all of these were to Lucia's disadvantage. Therefore I did sign the web-petition to re-open the case.
- March 27th 2007, there was an item on Lucia in Een Vandaag, a daily news magazine on Dutch
national public television, featuring Ton Derksen,
Richard Gill, Maarten 't Hart and me. Here is a link to the video (in Dutch).
Conviction by Numbers, Nature, January 19th 2007. News feature about the role of statistics in cases such
as Lucia de Berk and Sally Clark, including various remarks by
Richard Gill and me (only accessible if you
or your institute
has a subscription).
- Interview in
Vrij Nederland (weekly Dutch
magazine), December 6th, 2006.
- See also
Priesterschap, a short paper based on the
at the CWI reunion; and also Bij toeval
veroordeeld?, which appeared earlier in the Dutch popular science
Magazine Natuur en Techniek (September 2006).
- Slides of a presentation, which summarizes my views on statistical aspects of the case. Based on a talk given in the Evidence Seminar at University College London (to follow this some basic knowledge of
probability theory is required).
For general information in English, see the wikipedia page
on the case; also of interest is Lies, Damned Lies and
Statistics, the weekly Bad
Science column by Ben Goldacre in The Guardian
of April 7th,
2007. Losing the
Lottery is a longer version of the column, with discussion,
that can be found at the Bad Science web site. See also Professor Piet
Groeneboom's blog. More English
language links can be found at the (pro-Lucia) Lucia de B. site.
Last Updated: August 2007.