Suspects could face 80 hours of community service for threatening politician

Sylvana Simons

The Public Prosecutor demanded varying lengths of community service against five men accused of threatening politician Sylvana Simons. Against the man who made a video in which Simons' head is pasted on the bodies of lynched African Americans, the prosecutor demanded 80 hours of community service. Four other men heard 60 hours demanded against them. The sixth suspect who was tried on Wednesday is a 15-year-old boy whose trial was held behind closed doors, so the sentence demand against him is unknown, NOS reports.

These six suspects are the first of a total of 22 that will be prosecuted for threatening the politician, mostly online. The Prosecutor decided to go trough with the prosecution to show that there are boundaries to public debate. "We want to send out a signal that there is room to express your opinion, but there are limits of criminality." the Prosecutor said in court.

Simons was present at the trial and took the opportunity to speak. "I am here to show that Sylvana Simons is a real person of flesh and blood", she said, according to the Volkskrant. "I stand here as the mother of two children, a daughter, as beloved, as a sister." She wondered how the suspects explained to their children that they should not bully when they do so themselves.

Afterwards Simons told NOS that she is disappointed in the Prosecutor's punishment demands. The Prosecutor said that her life was in danger, Simons said to the broadcaster. Considering that, 60 hours of community service is "very little". 

At the start of the trial, the lawyers of the defendants accused the Prosecutor of randomly selecting who to prosecute. They demanded that the trial be ruled inadmissible. The judge refused. According to the judge, the Prosecutor is authorized to select who to prosecute.