Community service for dumping waste on highway in farmers' protest
A 42-year-old man from the municipality of Oost-Gelre got 72 hours of community service and a suspended prison sentence of one week for his part in dumping waste on an exit of the A18 near Varsseveld. That happened during a farmers’ protest at the end of July.
The pig farmer from the Achterhoek village of Marienvelde was caught red-handed on July 28 and was in pre-trial detention for four days. He was tried for blocking the slip road to the A18 highway, creating a dangerous situation. He was also charged with dumping waste. According to the public prosecutor, it concerned sawdust, manure, and straw. “Demonstrating is a fundamental right. And it is understandable that the nitrogen plans evoke a lot of emotions. But you cross a line if you create dangerous situations,” the prosecutor said. He demanded 100 euros of community service and a two-week suspended prison sentence.
The Arnhem police judge spoke of irresponsible and punishable behavior and serious criminal offenses. “You shouldn’t think about what can happen if someone drives into such a mountain of waste. And these kinds of actions have led to great social unrest,” said the judge. He also ordered the pig farmer to pay 3,600 euros in clean-up costs.
The man confessed to dumping straw with an unregistered tractor. He would not say with whom he was campaigning. The protest was an initiative of a partnership of farmers in Achterhoek. “I don’t support the action, but I felt I had to do something,” the pig farmer said to the judge. “I felt powerless. I feel threatened by what is going to happen, and I worry about the future of my business and my family. I underestimated the consequences for everyone. I regret that.”
Farmers have been protesting against the government’s nitrogen plans for months. In recent weeks, they dumped garbage or set hay bales on fire on several highways. The police arrested multiple people. On Friday, a case will appear in the Zwolle court against five men suspected of throwing beer bottles at the police. That happened at the Albert Heijn distribution center in Zwolle during a farmers' protest on July 4.
Next week Thursday, a second suspect, a 40-year-old man from Oost-Gelre, will be on trial at the Gelderland court for dumping waste near Varsseveld.
Reporting by ANP