Conspiracy theorists told to stop spreading satanic pedo-network claims
Three men who spread online conspiracy stories alleging proof of a satanic pedophile network and ritual infanticide in Bodegraven have been ordered by a judge to stop immediately. The decision was given during summary proceedings brought by the municipality of Bodegraven-Reeuwijk.
The allegations caused unrest among the residents with many adherents to the conspiracy theory traveling to Bodegraven to place flowers and protest signs near the graves of deceased children.
The court said it saw no evidence that the allegations made by the three were true, and instead caused unfounded suspicion. The harm that caused outweighs their freedom of expression, according to the ruling
The judge also ordered the three men to remove all previously published stories from the internet. Should they fail to do so, they will have to pay a fine or may even be incarcerated.
A relative of someone targeted by the conspiracy theory was relieved with the ruling, according to NOS. “On the one hand, we are more at ease but can only really relax when everything is removed from the internet. It is worrying that this has gone on for so long while it was harmful to all of the people that were mentioned.”
Bodegraven was forced to issue an emergency order in February to prevent further disturbances at the cemetery. Dozens of people had come to the cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of people they believed to be murdered by so-called Satanists in the 1980s.
The names of people they claimed were pedophiles were shared in a Telegram group called “De Batavian Republic” which comprised nearly 7,500 members. Texts sent in this group included messages such as “clear these murderers off the street” and “just hunt”, according to the Volkskrant.
“It had a major impact on safety and public order in Bodegraven. It lead to immense grief among relatives and creates feelings of insecurity”, the lawyer of the municipality stated. “Dozens of people feel damaged and intimidated.”
The mayor of Bodegraven also received death threats and a retired GP had to secure his home.