Almost 20 years after the violent death of a Dutch boy, thanks to modern technology, the victim is apparently looking for his killer himself. Together with the family, investigators have created a deepfake video that is unique in the world – and hope to use it to lure the killer out of his reserve.
For the first time, the police use the so-called deepfake technique to solve a crime. Thanks to this technique, Sedar Soares, who was killed in Rotterdam in 2003, appeared on Sunday evening in a video call by the police on TV.
According to the police, this technique was used for the first time to call witnesses. “It’s a world first,” said police expert Daan Annegarn. Deepfakes are videos, images or audio files that were produced with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). A person’s voice, face, and movements appear real, but they aren’t.
The police produced the video based on a photograph of the boy who was killed. 13-year-old Sedar is seen on a soccer field in a tracksuit. He walks through a line of honor made up of family, friends, teachers and coaches. “He wanted to be a professional footballer,” says his sister Janet in the film. “The dream is gone. Because Sedar is no more.” In order to finally learn the truth, he was “brought to life especially for this film”. And then the boy, together with his sister, seems to appeal to the viewers: “Do you know more? Then speak now.”
Sedar was shot dead in Rotterdam in the winter of 2003. For years, police believed he was shot by an angry motorist for throwing snowballs at cars with his friends. But now investigators are assuming that he was an accidental victim when a fraud attempt by criminals went wrong.
The video was developed together with the family, said the police expert. “We are convinced that it can also affect people in the criminal environment. That witnesses and maybe the perpetrator will come forward.”