Thirteen years after the murder of organic farmer Martin, his story became a hit in Spanish cinemas.

Thirteen years after the murder of organic farmer Martin, his story became a hit in Spanish cinemas.

Martin Verfonndern, a Dutch organic farmer living in Spain, was shot dead in 2010 after a dispute broke out near an abandoned village. A neighbor boy killed him. Thirteen years later, a feature film about crime in Spain fills the houses.

The wooden sign in the messy cemetery commemorates the Dutchman buried there. The tomb is small, with very little left of it when Verfundern was found. It had been more than four years since the Dutch farmer’s only neighbor in a remote hamlet was killed by one of his sons.

The massacre came after a long struggle for mass logging revenues near Santoalla, a remote village in northwest Spain. Verfondern, who settled in Santoalla with his wife Margo Pool in the late 1990s, received his share of this income. The judge ruled in favor of the Dutch until appeal.

Margo Pool, who still lives in a remote area and shows her husband’s grave, says it’s more than her neighbors can bear. Communication was good at first. But that changed when the villagers saw that they were no longer the only ones in Santoalla. It was especially good for Martin. Misunderstandings turned into trouble. Disputes turned into arguments. Until it heals.

Outgoing reporter Rop Zoutberg visited Margo, who still lives in Santoalla:

“Of course we had problems with the neighbors, and I think their son often heard from his parents that the Dutchman had to be killed. He turned his head. And then he did.

Verfundern was shot and killed at close range while shopping in January 2010. It was revealed that the two brothers hid the body in a forest 20 kilometers away in the case, which was carried out years later. The brothers also left Verfundern’s SUV, which they tried to burn, there.


“For years I thought it was an accident,” his widow says. It is unlikely otherwise. Her husband must have been in an accident on the steep road to Santoalla. In the summer of 2014, Verfonder’s all-terrain vehicle was accidentally discovered by a helicopter used in a forest fire. The remains of the German, who was soon naturalized as Dutch, were also found. Almost instantly, suspicion passed to the neighbors.

The reason for the conflict and disappearance has already been the subject of Santoalla, the 2016 documentary film by American producers Andrew Becker and Daniel Mehrer. There was also a feature film last year: As bestas, literally “Monsters”. The film is about a French couple in a remote village in Galicia. They argue with their neighbors about the arrival of a wind farm. It ends with the murder of the Frenchman. It’s not hard to see what happened to the Dutch in repressive film.

As bestas was already very successful in Spain and France and received multiple nominations for the annual Spanish film award Goya. Prices will be announced in early February.

Trailer of As bestas:

That’s not what Margo Pool (69) cares about though. He has a herd of forty goats to tend every day. A visitor wanders cautiously among the ruins of Santoalla, once inhabited by dozens of people. There is almost no wall left outside the renovated house of the Dutch state.

He says that he really enjoyed the feature film As bestas, which was acclaimed in Spain. He saw the movie months ago, especially when the director came to the village to show him the result. It was in the peasant’s room where we are now. The question he was constantly asked: why didn’t he go and live in the hamlet?

He smiles a little. “Martin and I came here because we wanted to fulfill our dream. We’ve come a long way, but this dream still exists. Martin is still here. I remember it all day. If I go, ours is here. Dream passes. Then Martin also disappears. Then everything would be in vain.”

The old couple of neighbors passed away some time ago. His two sons were convicted. The youngest was serving a ten-year sentence and has since been released. You’re not allowed to be with Margo. The hamlet is quieter than ever.

Source: NOS