Torch-wielding man who threatened Dutch minister gets 6 months in prison; Live streamer also convicted
The man who stood with a burning torch in front of the house of politician Sigrid Kaag earlier this month was convicted on Wednesday for making threats against her. He was sentenced to six months in prison. The judge in The Hague also sentenced the woman who shot the event on video and live-streamed it to four months in prison. They banned from coming into contact with Kaag, the new finance minister, as well as the other members of the Cabinet, and RIVM director Jaap van Dissel.
Max van den B., a 29-year-old Amsterdammer, held the flaming torch in front of the house of the D66 politician, while shouting conspiracy theories, and calling out to her. This was all able to be viewed live on social media thanks to 44-year-old Eline van 't N. While shooting video, she also filmed inside the home of the politician, and showed Kaag's children. She was crying as the verdict was read, and she yelled out that the judge was “out of his mind.”
"Threats of violence are inadmissible," said the judge. The fact that everything was filmed and ended up on the internet made the situation even more threatening for Kaag. "You could have cut off the live stream, but you didn't," he told Van 't N. The judge indicated that he wanted to send "a signal" with his severe punishment. "You wanted your demonstration to reach a wider audience yourself, so it is important to convince a wide audience that this is not the right way to go about it."
Kaag called the action "threatening and frightening" for her and her family. Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the threat "totally unacceptable". She said that the sentence sent the right message to others who try to use aggression and threats to make their voices heard.
“I am grateful to the judge and the prosecution, but also relieved," says the politician. Kaag is "afraid that something will go wrong. Then we shouldn't be surprised, whoever it will hit."
Kaag called it "very sad" that it should have come to this. She hopes that people "who intimidate, threaten and thus make the work and personal environment of politicians unsafe" heed the warning. She called on other officials who face threats to also file criminal reports about such actions. Her wish is that politicians who use inflammatory language and character assassinations to rethink their tactics.
Van den B. was also recently arrested when he stood in front of the Rotterdam house of Hugo de Jonge. That happened while De Jonge was still the health minister.
Van den B. And Van ‘t N. were also found guilty of threatening former top official Joris Demmink. They also took a camera to a club in The Hague where Demmink is a member, and threatened him with the death penalty. Demmink filed a police report over it. Demmink’s name has popped up more often in conspiracy theorist circles, who accuse him of being a pedophile, although no such evidence has ever been found.
The lawyers for both suspects do not yet know whether they will appeal. They could also face more severe sentences if convicted on appeal; the prosecutor wanted them each to sit behind bars for nine months.
Reporting by ANP