Dutch police create deepfake video of murdered boy, 13, in hope of new leads

Dutch police have received dozens of leads after using deepfake technology to virtually bring to life a teenager almost two decades after his murder.

Sedar Soares was shot dead in 2003 while throwing snowballs with friends in the parking lot of a Rotterdam metro station.

The 13-year-old’s murder baffled police for years. 今, with the permission of Sedar’s family, they have made a video in which the teen asks the public to help solve the cold-case crime.

In what Dutch police believe could be a world first, an eerily lifelike image of Sedar appears in the video as he greets the camera and picks up a football.

Accompanied by stirring music, he walks through a guard of honour on the field, comprising his relatives, former teachers and friends.

“Somebody must know who murdered my darling brother. That’s why he has been brought back to life for this film,” a voice says, before Sedar stops and drops his ball.

“Do you know more? Then speak,” Sedar and his relatives and friends say, before his image disappears from the field and the video gives the police contact details.

“The fact that we have already received dozens of tips is very positive,” said Lillian van Duijvenbode, a Rotterdam police spokesperson, a day after the deepfake video was released.

“But we haven’t yet checked if these leads are usable,” she told AFP.

Police at first believed Soares had been shot because he threw snowballs at a vehicle, the NOS newscaster said.

But police now say he was “at the wrong place at the wrong time”, and was the innocent victim of a “ripdeal” gone wrong, the term used when criminal gang members rob one another.

Police believe Soares was “a victim of underworld violence by pure bad luck”, and are now looking for testimonies from individuals who knew about the ripdeal scam, in addition to witnesses to the shooting.