Dekker flies back to the Netherlands

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Teenage Dutch sailor Laura Dekker faced the possibility of being removed from her father's custody Tuesday as she returned to the Netherlands after disappearing from home and flying to the Caribbean.

Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported that the Bureau of Youth Care wants to remove her from her father's home, where she lives.

Bureau spokesman Joost Lanshage declined to comment on the report.

"We didn't publicize this," he said. "We first want to see how Laura is. We have seen her and want to know what is happening."

Utrecht District Court spokeswoman Edmee Leeman confirmed the bureau had requested a hearing Tuesday afternoon to discuss Dekker. Leeman had no further details about the hearing.

Dekker made headlines earlier this year when a court banned her from attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world.

At the same time, the court ordered the youth bureau to appoint a temporary guardian to liaise with her father about all important decisions in Dekker's life. The court would have to approve any request by the bureau to change Dekker's living arrangements.

Dekker's father is a keen sailor and has always said he believes his daughter is capable of sailing alone around the world even though her longest solo voyage so far has been to Britain and back.

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said Dekker was interviewed by police at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport before being turned over to child care authorities.

Lanshage said his bureau had spoken to Dekker but gave no details, citing privacy rules.

Dekker was shielded from waiting media after her arrival early Tuesday morning on a flight from the Netherlands Antilles island of Curacao.

Police now want to know how she managed to fly to the island of St. Maarten and whether anybody helped her.

Dekker's mother, who is divorced from her father, reported her missing on Friday. Police on St. Maarten told The Associated Press she flew there Thursday via Paris. Dutch police announced late Sunday they had tracked her down, but are still trying to piece together exactly how she managed to get there.



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