Tweet lands Groningen earthquake victim in jail

Police guard in a detention center
Police guard in a detention center. Photo: Politie

A private message sent to the police on Twitter landed 58-year-old Elze Schollema from Usquert in Groningen in jail for the night earlier this week. The police considered the message threatening, but according to Schollema, they misunderstood the tone, he said to Dagblad van het Noorden. 

The Usquert man was a garage owner until last year, when he closed his company due to stress caused by still handling earthquake damage claims dating from 2012. Schollema was upset and frustrated by the "I was at the boiling point, I was furious. It was powerlessness", Schollema explained to the newspaper. "And then I sent a direct message, but the police misunderstood the tweet... I'm a peace-loving person."

"I am going to set fire to a NAM drilling site and I'll pay 1000 euro compensation. The NAM does this too, pay compensation that does not correspond to the damage suffered", was the scope of the message Schollema sent.

He quickly got a reaction on Twitter from police spokesperson Paul Heidanus. "According to him, I needed help. I responded that I already had a lot of help from Rene Paas, from the independent counselor, but nobody does anything. It all stays with vague promises." 

Not much later, police cars drove into Schollema's street. Officers and a dog brigade got out and closed down the street. To his astonishment, they were there for him. He was arrested. Schollema spent the night in a cell in the complex on Hooghoudstraat in Groningen. "That was not a pleasant experience." He was questioned about his message. "But that tweet from Heidanus was of course not brought up."

"So you see how our legal system works. The victim is arrested and the perpetrators - NAM - walk around freely", Schollema said to the newspaper. "I still asked the officers how they could do this."

He has the impression that the detectives understood his situation. "Normally you are put out on the street in the morning, but a detective who had to go to Delfzijl brought me home", he said. "But was I charged? I do not know." The police still have his phone and tablet. "I want that back."

Police spokesperson Nathalie Schubart told the newspaper that Schollema was arrested because of the threatening tone of the tweet he sent to the police. Whether he will be prosecuted, is up to the Public Prosecutor to decide. His phone and tablet are still under investigation. He will get them back once the investigation is complete. 

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