Five anti-asylum rioters in court; accused of disrupting democracy

Riot police in Geldermalsen during asylum debate on Dec 16th, 2015 (Photo: @iWeethetbeter/Twitter)Riot police in Geldermalsen during asylum debate on Dec 16th, 2015 (Photo: @iWeethetbeter/Twitter)

Five men from Geldermalsen and surroundings are appearing in the court in Arnhem on Monday to account for their role in anti-asylum center riots in Geldermalsen in December last year. They are being charged with disruption of the democratic order, a law that is hardly ever used in the Netherlands, according to both NOS and NRC.

If these men are found guilty, they face a prison sentence of up to nine years or a fine of up to 82 thousand euros. The Public Prosecutor suspects them of throwing stones, cans, fireworks and smoke bombs. One of them also assaulted a police officer.

A total of 44 people were arrested following riots at a council meeting about a possible asylum center in the city. The plans for the asylum center was eventually withdrawn, leading to criticism from several sides that the city council backing down in the face of the riots creates the image that Dutch citizens can use violence to get their way. Geldermalsen mayor  Miranda de Vries repeatedly apologized for how the whole situation was handled.

Only 32 of the 44 arrested suspects will appear in court. The first cases will be handled on Monday and Tuesday, followed by another 20 cases in the police court on June 13th and 16th. Six of those arrested are minors and their cases will appear in the juvenile court on June 10th, according to newspaper AD. Five people were only given a fine and seven cases were dropped.