In 1968, Frits Winterwerp was put into a psychiatric hospital. Local courts had ordered him to be kept there, and throughout the 1970s they gave annual orders to ensure that he could not leave. When entering the institution Mr Winterwerp had automatically lost control of his money and his assets.
Mr Winterwerp insisted that he had no mental illness, that he was not a danger to himself or others, and that he should not be locked up in an institution. He made four different requests to be released – all of which were refused.
Mr Winterwerp argued that he had been prevented from making his case in the courts, and that they kept extending his detention without hearing his objections.