Prosecutor removed from discrimination case after commotion over Akwasi settlement
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) in Amsterdam stands behind its decision not to prosecute rapper Akwasi for statements he made about the use of blackface by people portraying Zwarte Piet. The comments were made during a Black Lives Matter protest in June. The OM did decide to remove the the prosecutor who signed that settlement with Akwasi from a similar case, to prevent the attention she is getting from interfering with the case, NOS reports.
On Friday, the OM said that Akwasi's statements about Zwarte Piet - that he would kick the blackface Sinterklaas character in the face - can be considered inciting, and is therefore punishable. The OM reached an agreement with Akwasi that the case against him will be conditionally dropped if the rapper takes back that statement and publicly speaks out against violence. The rapper did so in a publilc statement on social media.
The Prosecutor involved in this agreement was Jacobien Vreekamp. She was on the discrimination hotline for the Amsterdam region MDRA with the front man of Kick Out Zwarte Piet until July of this year. PVV leader Geert Wilders and CDA parliamentarian Chris van Dam therefore questioned her impartiality.
The OM responded that Vreekamp is no longer affiliated with the hotline, but that prosecutors are encouraged to hold additional positions to ensure that the OM stays "at the heart of society", and does not become removed from it. "Precisely because of her involvement in the subject of discrimination, a secondary function in this field was obvious," the OM said. The MDRA board met only three or four times a year, and there have been no conflicts of interest at any time while Vreekamp was on the board, the OM said.
But to make sure that this attention on Vreekamp doesn't affect a similar case that appears on Monday - in which 25 suspects have been summoned for inflammatory, insulting or discriminatory texts on Facebook - the OM in Amsterdam decided to remove her from this case.