To the British tabloids, he was ‘the Pied Piper of paedophiles’, the UK’s ‘most wanted child abuser’. But we all knew him as Willem: the fat, jolly, occasionally lecherous Dutchman who was a mainstay of Prague’s expatriate gay community. If you visited one of the city’s same-sex watering holes before last August, when Czech police arrested him, chances are that you would have seen, if not heard, the Pied Piper of Prague holding court at the end of the bar.
‘He liked his drugs, his drinks and his rent boys,’ one mutual friend, a young man I’ll name Thomas, recalls of Willem. The pursuit of such pleasures is hardly unusual in the Czech capital, which has long been known as the ‘Bangkok of Europe’ for its legalised prostitution and seedy sex club scene, attracting an unmistakable class of northern European gentleman tourist (of both the homosexual and heterosexual persuasion).