Three farmers arrested for attempted manslaughter; Police warn against publicly doxxing officers
The police arrested three people during the farmers' protest along the A32 highway near Heerenveen on Tuesday. They are suspected of attempted manslaughter, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) announced on Wednesday.
The three suspects include a 46-year-old man from Opsterland, and two Heerenveen males aged 34 and 16. All three were still in custody Wednesday afternoon. The OM is investigating the facts, circumstances, and behavior of the men, the result of which will determine if the trio will face a remand hearing to extend their detention.
The suspects were arrested after a police action in which targeted shots were fired and warning shots were also fired. This happened during the protest, leading to a tractor allegedly driven by the 16-year-old boy being struck by a bullet. Images of the incident are circulating on social media, including the bullet hole. A video shows that officers appear to be on the road with guns drawn when a tractor with trailer drives past a police blockade. Then shots can be heard on the video. No video has surfaced showing a direct attack on officers.
The use of a firearm was being examined by the Rijksrecherche, the national investigative service that handles investigations at government services like the police. "During that investigation, those involved are questioned, images are viewed, and trace evidence is investigated. The Public Prosecution Service cannot and must not prejudge that independent investigation. We ask everyone not to do that either," the OM said.
A group of activists drove about twenty tractors to the police station in Leeuwarden where the 16-year-old boy was in custody at about 2:30 p.m., and they departed two hours later. They left after the boy's parents made the request to prevent the situation from escalating, according to activist and dairy farmer Nynke Koopmans said.
In addition to the parents' request, there is a suspicion in Leeuwarden that other groups wanted to join the protest. "We have come here for Jouke, not to stir up unrest," said Koopmans, who alleged that police tactical units and mounted police were at the ready. The request to leave was met, and without hesitation. The activists may return on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
Mark van den Oever of farmers' action group Farmers Defense Force (FDF) had called for a demonstration at the police station via a video message shared on YouTube. He said the minor was wrongly detained. As a few dozen people gathered there on Wednesday afternoon, police vans and officers blocked the entrance to the police facility. The atmosphere remained pleasant. "He has to be released, that's why we are here," said one of those present in Leeuwarden. "That he is suspected of attempted manslaughter is ridiculous. He is seen as the biggest criminal in the Netherlands, like Taghi. That is ridiculous."
Meanwhile, the Fryslân police also called on people to stop sharing sensitive information about police officers on social media, including those who were involved in the shooting incident in Heerenveen.
"There are messages that are very intimidating and threatening and in which personal data of the colleagues involved are shared. We call on everyone to stop this. This is punishable and is also known as doxxing," according to the police.
Along with the images and videos of the incident that spread on social media, people also distributed the name and a recognizable photo of the officer who shot Tuesday night.