False information on Zwarte Piet highway blockade trial widely shared on Facebook

Kick Out Zwarte Piet blocked from protesting racism in Friesland Netherlands on Sinterklaas
The A7 highway blocked near Heerenveen by about 35 people refusing to let groups of people pass through to protest Zwarte Piet, blackface and racism at the Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum, Friesland. 18 Nov. 2017photo: "Otto" / Kick Out Zwarte Piet

A Facebook post stating that the 34 suspects in the trial around a highway blockade during the national Sinterklaas arrival last year were sentenced to prison, was massively shared on Facebook. The post on the page 'Ik Ben Zwarte Piet Fan' was shared over 25 thousand times in the 23 hours it was online. It has since been removed, NOS reports.

According to the post, all 34 suspects were sentenced to 18 months in prison, six of which conditionally suspended. This is misinformation. 

The lawsuit revolves around 34 people suspected of blocking the A7 highway so that two buses carrying anti-Zwarte Piet protesters could not reach the national Sinterklaas arrival in Dokkum in November last year. The trial against them started on Monday and is still ongoing. The Public Prosecutor hasn't even demanded sentences against the suspects yet. That's expected to happen on Friday. 

Nevertheless, the post was liked nearly 3 thousand times and shared over 25 thousand times. The page itself has more than 32 thousand likes, and only had this one post, which was removed around 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, according to NOS.

In the Netherlands news site NU.nl checks fake news on behalf of Facebook. "We did not come across this in the dashboard where all reports come in", chief editor Gert-Jaap Hoekman said to NOS on Wednesday morning. NU.nl reported the post afterwards. According to NU.nl, it is not clear whether the post was removed by the page or by Facebook.