The West

Fury over legal victim
Fury over 'legal' victim

Dutch tourist Linda Huiskamp flew back to the Netherlands last night amid a media storm in her country over Australia's treatment of the 26-year-old backpacker.

A week after being found not guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of her close friend, Suzanne van der Schoot, an emotional Ms Huiskamp was finally allowed to return home.

The WA Director of Public Prosecutions said he would not appeal against the jury's decision.

The unsuccessful case against Ms Huiskamp - who was arrested at her hospital bedside and wheeled into the morgue to identify her friend's body - has left her with a $120,000 legal bill and caused an outcry in her home country.

Her ordeal was followed closely by Dutch media, who criticised WA's legal system and questioned the impact of her case on the 50,000 Dutch tourists who visit Australia each year.

Ms Huiskamp and Ms van der Schoot met on a plane to Australia and had spent six months backpacking around the country when their car crashed at a notorious South Coast Highway intersection near Esperance on April 3.

Ms Huiskamp was driving but remembers nothing of the accident.

During a four-day trial, the District Court in Esperance was told that the intersection was known to be "inherently unsafe" and the Esperance Shire Council had been warned as far back as 2010 that it was a high accident risk.

"In Holland, it was definitely felt that she was a victim, not a perpetrator," Dutch journalist Robert Portier, who travelled to Esperance to report on the trial, said.

"We do feel she has been penalised enough by losing a good friend."

Media coverage in the Netherlands has focused on the human tragedy and the potential risks faced by Dutch tourists in Australia.

In the lead-up to her trial, Ms Huiskamp was refused permission to return home for medical treatment and was unable to get access to a Dutch-speaking psychiatrist.

Fundraising efforts in the Netherlands and websites in both English and Dutch have been set up to help Ms Huiskamp's family, who cannot afford to pay the legal bills.

Mylene Speelman van Jeijster, who took in Ms Huiskamp while she awaited trial, said it was still unclear who made the decision to charge her and why.

The West Australian

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