Suspect in gay couple's assault denies throwing the first punch

Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes and Jasper Vernes-Sewratan
Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes and Jasper Vernes-SewratanPhoto: Jasper Vernes-Sewratan / Facebook

One of the boys suspected of assaulting a gay couple in Arnhem on Sunday morning denies throwing the first punch, the 16-year-old's lawyer said on Pauw on Monday. According to the teen, the two gay men shouted aggressive words to the group of young people and one of the men started the fight, ANP reports.

The boy also denies that the assault had anything to do with the men's sexual identity and that a bolt cutter was used in the fight. He does, however, acknowledge knocking out one of the men's teeth with his fist. He will file charges of assault against, the lawyer, Gerald Roethof, said. 

Roethof added that the young people were a 'mixed' group. "There was a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, someone with a Moroccan and someone with a Turkish background."

The gay couple, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, filed assault charges against the group of young people, expressly mentioning the use of bolt cutters in the attack. They were attacked as they walked home from a party around 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning by a group of between six and eight youths. The suspects are between the ages of 14 and 20 years.

According to the victims, they were attacked because they were walking hand in hand. Dutch society's reaction was mostly one of outrage and horror. A protest against LGBT violence is being organized in Arnhem for Saturday. The bridge over the IJssel near Westervoort was illuminated in rainbow colors on Monday night. D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and party  member  Wouter Koolmees arrived at the government formation negotiations walking hand in hand on Monday, to show support. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the incident "terrible" and GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver called it "ludicrous" that people are still being attacked because of who they love.