World

Family freed after years in cellar, Austrian man arrested

THE HAGUE : Dutch police are holding an Austrian man after the discovery of a father and his adult children who were believed to have been hidden in a remote farmhouse for years, officials said yesterday.

Police said they discovered a father and his five children aged between 18 and 25 in the village of Ruinerwold on Monday and arrested a 58-year-old man - not the father - for failing to cooperate.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry confirmed an Austrian from Vienna was being held, but said he did not want contact with Austrian officials.

Media reports said the man was known as "Josef, the Austrian" and the one holding the group in the cellar, renting the house and planting vegetables for them.

The family had spent years "waiting for the end of time".

The oldest of the children, a 25-year-old named Jan,for the first time in nine years posted a Facebook update in June, said Dutch media.

"Started a new job at Creconat," daily tabloid De Telegraaf quoted him as saying.

The company was raided by police on Monday, the paper said, adding it belonged to the 58-year-old Austrian man.

Local news station RTV Drenthe, which first reported the story, said police were alerted after Jan walked into a village bar on Sunday evening.

He said "he has not been outside for the past nine years", bar owner Chris Westerbeek told RTV Drenthe.

Police discovered a hidden staircase leading to a cellar where the father and his children were hiding. - AFP

WORLD