Community service for rioters at Zwolle farmers’ protest
The police judge in Zwolle on Friday imposed a community service order of 120 hours and a month's suspended prison sentence for their involvement in riots at an Albert Heijn distribution center in Zwolle.
On July 4, protesting farmers blocked the distribution center. The protest ended in a confrontation with the riot police. A fourth man, the only farmer among the five suspects, was acquitted for lack of evidence, as demanded by the prosecutor.
The confrontation followed the issuing of an emergency ordinance by the mayor of Zwolle. The riot police had ordered the two to three hundred people present at the distribution center to leave. They didn't. Instead, violence ensued, including rioters throwing beer bottles at the police. A police shovel was also destroyed.
Three suspects said they went to the blockade to support the farmers. None of the men is known to be a notorious rioter. According to the farmer on trial, the riots "didn't come from the farmers," but other people present were the cause.
The Public Prosecution Service demanded a prison sentence of four months against three of the five suspects, of which two months were suspended. Justice considers it important that "a clear signal" is sent, also because the farmers' protests against the Cabinet's nitrogen plans are becoming increasingly loud. "Demonstration is an important fundamental right, but if you go over the line you can expect a strong reaction," said the public prosecutor. "We do not tolerate violence against the police."
The officer demanded community service against one suspect, taking into account his personality problems. The judge also did that: he imposed a community service order of 120 hours on the man, of which 40 hours were suspended.
The magistrate thought it was going too far to send the suspects to prison. He did, however, tell them that in their solidarity with the farmers they had crossed "a boundary." They have not done the farmers' movement any good with the violence they committed and violence against the police is completely out of the question, according to the judge. "They are committed to our society. You shouldn't pelt police officers."
In accordance with the demand of the Public Prosecution Service, the police judge imposed a fine of 410 euros for violating the emergency ordinance issued on the night in question. The accused farmer was also acquitted.
Reporting by ANP