Rotterdam Riot suspects in tears during trial; Sentenced to months in prison
Crying and sobbing, 29-year-old Terrence van den B. from Rotterdam expressed regret during the first express court hearing regarding last Friday's riots in the center of Rotterdam. He is standing trial for throwing rocks at a police riot squad van. The public prosecutor (OM) recommended a six-month prison sentence, one month of which was suspended. He was sentenced to five months in prison, two of which were conditional.
He is also not allowed to come within a radius of 5 kilometers around the Coolsingel for a year, the court said, matching the OM's demand. His lawyer argued for community service and a suspended prison sentence. "Community service is an insult to people who wanted to provide help there and were thwarted," the court ruled.
A protest against the 2G policy degenerated into a battle on the Coolsingel in Rotterdam on Friday. The police made 49 arrests. The cornered officers were forced to fire gunshots during the evening. Five people suffered gunshot wounds, and it is still being investigated whether they were struck by police bullets. One officer was seriously wounded and required hospitalization. Several officers suffered minor injuries.
"It was stupid of me. I wasn't thinking at that moment. I made bad choices and I didn't think about where my behavior would lead me. I now really realize my mistake," said Van den B.
The court played a video for him that showed how he smashed a paving stone on the street then threw fragments of it at a police vehicle. "The violence was so targeted at the police that officers were terrified. They had to draw their weapons out of fear, and after these gunshots you started throwing stones."
"I want to express my regret that I took such a stupid decision. I let myself get carried away with the situation and the tension that hung over the city. Perhaps I should have walked away immediately and gone home." The police then arrested Van den B. violently by pushing him against a shop window, injuring the suspect
Sharon M. also gets five months in prison
The Rotterdammer is the second rioter to be tried in court in Rotterdam on Wednesday afternoon. Earlier in the afternoon, the judge sentenced 26-year-old Sharon M. from Spijkenisse to five months in prison, two of which were suspended for throwing rocks and paving stones at riot police and police vehicles with officers in them. This happened on Lijnbaan and Coolsingel.
The OM had recommended a prison sentence of six months, of which one month was conditional for acts of open violence. M.'s lawyer argued for community service.
The court ruled, "There is a moment when you have chosen to participate in the throwing of rocks. That is a very serious act. Such serious acts and such behavior can only be punished by a prison sentence. I do not think community service is appropriate, and cannot repay society." M. was also banned to enter an area within five kilometers of the Coolsingel. She has to pay compensation to the police of 1,000 euros. The damage caused to a riot police vehicle amounted to more than 9,000 euros.
The court said in its ruling that it considered the injuries to the police officers that night. "You have influenced their lives," the judge ruled. "It concerns people who were doing their job. People with loved ones and family. This has so badly disrupted the life of the police, and I very much blame her for that."
M. was in tears after the verdict. She previously said she regretted throwing rocks. "It was a split-second and I really learned not to do that. It is just ruining my life."
Officers were in a state of terror, the judge told the suspect. According to the judge, it remains to be seen whether they will go back to work. M. said, "I spoke to officers at the police station and apologized. I wanted it to be peaceful. I'm sorry for the officers. I'd like to reverse what happened."
Police call for footage of Rotterdam riots; Fifth gunshot victim comes forward
In the television program Opsporing Verzocht on Tuesday evening, the police asked everyone who has video footage of the riots in Rotterdam to submit them. According to a police spokesperson, these could help enormously in finding the rioters. A fifth person with a gunshot wound they say they got during the riots on Friday reported to a police station, the police said on Twitter.
On Opsoring Verzocht, the police spokesperson referred to riots in Several Dutch cities at the end of January, when the government implemented the curfew. Then bystanders submitted thousands of videos. "With all those images, we can see exactly who did what. So that when they eventually come to court, they can also receive a sentence or have to pay compensation that fits what they actually did."
Viewing and analyzing images is a "very precise job," according to the spokesperson. The police receive help from a team of professionals, including people with a form of autism. They can "study those images very precisely for hours, and that helps us not to miss anything," the spokesperson said.
Disturbances broke out at a demonstration against the coronavirus measures in Rotterdam on Friday evening. Rioters threw fireworks and rocks at first responders. Police officers fired their guns at some rioters. Five people came forward with gunshot wounds. The National Criminal Investigation Department is investigating whether police bullets hit them.
Several others, including police officers, were also injured. The police arrested 49 people on the night itself.
Reporting by ANP.