In the fire on the night of June 22-23, 2000, 15 young backpackers were killed, including Sebastian Westerveld and Joly van der Velden.
The fire quickly spread to the hostel in Childers Village, as more than 80 backpackers slept. There were no smoke detectors and there were bars on the bedroom windows. Backpackers sleeping upstairs were trapped like rats.
Robert Paul Long set the wooden building on fire that day because he was angry about being evicted by the owner a week earlier. The reason: payment arrears.
The Australian (now 57) was sentenced to life in prison but was given the option to seek parole after 20 years under Australian law. A special committee has now decided that this will not take place.
Barry, Joly’s brother, did it last year his story at RTL Nieuws. He said he found it hard to believe the arsonist would be able to roam free again for the foreseeable future. “I can’t live with this idea.”
“Our life stopped. My parents lost their daughter, I lost my sister. She had been traveling in Australia for eight months, that was the moment of her life. She loved nature, the people around her. . I was so proud that she made this trip. A lot of people just fantasize about it, she just did. That it ended in this horror is indescribable. “
Relatives and survivors of the blaze launched an online petition last year calling for Robert Long to be kept behind bars indefinitely. The petition has been signed and given to the committee more than 20,000 times.
Now Long is not released, but it is not a final judgment. Long can presumably apply for parole again next year.
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