Covid vaccine site bomb plot a “joke that got out of hand” says prosecutor
A 38-year-old man arrested for preparing to detonate explosives at the GGD Covid-19 vaccination center in Den Helder was a plot that started out as a joke, but which quickly escalated, the public prosecution service (OM) said in court on Monday. The alleged bomb would have been made from a combination of fireworks, petrol and oil, according to the suspect’s chat messages, the court heard. It could have potentially closed the Den Helder site for a week or more.
Ralph K. was arrested before a bomb could be detonated. The OM could not offer a motive for the bomb plot, with the defendant’s lawyer saying he has only protested peacefully, according to NH Nieuws.
"He cannot really give an explanation and sees it all as a joke that got out of hand," the OM stated. The prosecutor argued to keep the suspect in pre-trial detention while an investigation into his mental state is carried out.
He has been behind bars since he was first taken into custody in March, with the OM accusing him of having “terrorist intent” when formulating the bomb plot. "With his actions, the accused intended to terrify the population and to disrupt the economic and social structures of the country," the OM said at the time. The OM claimed he "has attempted to sabotage a crucial government process, namely the nationally coordinated vaccination program, in an extremely violent manner."
A tip from an informant led to the arrest. K. Had been trying to gain intelligence about the GGD vaccination site’s security, and was trying to collect money and fireworks, the OM alleged. He also prepared for the plot by acquiring walkie-talkies.
Those were meant for a children’s treasure hunt, the defendant countered. He also claimed that the informant set him up in a possible case of entrapment by first getting the suspect drunk. "That is a professional informant. He filled me with booze and then statements were made," the defendant said, according to the news report.
K.’s attorney called for pre-trial detention to be ended. The defendant said he is currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has been badly affected by his time served.
A decision on his detention could be handed down on Tuesday.
Coronavirus test sites and Covid-19 vaccination centers have been the target of several violent protests during the pandemic. An explosive was detonated at a test facility in Bovenkarspel, which shocked many in politics. Flammable material was discovered at a location in Hilversum, and a test center was set on fire in Urk. There were also two arrests when a plot to burn down a test facility in Eindhoven was uncovered.