Police apologize for jumping to conclusions in Arnhem gay bashing case

The police acknowledged that they were too quick to conclude that an attack on two gay men in Arnhem earlier this year was due to homophobia. "Our reporting should have been different", the Gelderland police said in a press release on Tuesday, NOS reports.

The two men, aged 31 and 35, were assaulted in April while walking hand in hand after a night out. In police statements that followed, the police said that there were strong indications that the men were assaulted due to the sexual orientation. The victims also blamed homophobia. But after investigation, the Public Prosecutor was unable to determine that this was an anti-LGBTQ hate crime and charged the suspects with public violence.

The police now say that the investigating officers should not have jumped to conclusions. "Shortly after the assault, there was a great deal of uproar and indignation in society, because the abuse would have been motivated by homophobia. Of course we as police were on high alert, as we take every signal of homophobia seriously", the police said. The police added that they attach great importance to impartiality. And that means carrying out investigations "without prejudice, without jumping to conclusions."

The first pro-forma hearing of this case happened on Tuesday, behind closed doors because the suspects are underage. 

After the hearing, the victims' lawyer Sidney Smeets told NU.nl that a possible homophobic motive will definitely be discussed during the trial in March. According to the lawyer, the Public Prosecutor stressed that "the homophobic nature of the assault should be dealt with". "The Public Prosecutor will discuss the anti-gay violence and possibly also include it in the sentencing", Smeets said to the newspaper. 

"My clients came across the boys and were called homo, fagot and dirty because they were visibly gay", Smeets said. "They were chased and assaulted by the boys. One of my clients was hit with a hard object and lost his teeth and part of his jaw was shattered."