In the court in Amsterdam, criminal proceedings have started against 21 men and 4 women who two years ago posted hateful reactions under a live stream of journalist Clarice Gargard. They are suspected of threats, sedition and discrimination, among other things; Gargard was threatened with a neck shot. Another said he regretted that slavery had been abolished.
“You may say a lot in the Netherlands, but there are limits,” the prosecutor stated in the hearing. Three suspects gave a statement this morning: they say they wrote it down in a fit of anger, did not think about the consequences and are sorry.
According to the Public Prosecutors Office, two of the suspects should be given 30 hours community service and two a fine of EUR 350.
Heard through the media
Before the start of the case, there was commotion about Public Prosecutor Jacobien Vreekamp, who was taken off the case yesterday evening. She came under fire because of her secondary position on the board of Meldpunt Discriminatie Regio Amsterdam, which also included Kick Out Black Piet-activist Mitchell Esajas. Her independence was therefore called into question by a number of Members of Parliament, among others. By the way, she is no longer on the board.
The decision to replace her with Public Prosecutor Paul Velleman met with opposition from lawyer Sidney Smeets, who represents Gargard. “It is quite scandalous, we had to hear about it through the media,” he says in the CCeit Radio 1 News. “We have been working on this case for two years, we have been in contact with this Public Prosecutor for two years He thinks it is nonsense that Vreekamp has to resign because of fuss on social media.
“One and indivisible
The new Public Prosecutor, Velleman, has parried Smeets criticism of the Public Prosecution Service, saying that justice is one and indivisible. He says he was involved with Vreekamp from the start. Lawyer Smeets applied to the court this morning for the case to be arrested, but that was rejected. Gargard then left the courtroom.
Smeets does not like the way his client is treated. “Victims have the right to a public prosecutor who takes the case seriously and knows it from oats to stone, and they should not be told the night before the trial that someone else is being put on trial
Racist hate account
According to the Public Prosecutors Office, there has not been a single moment of conflict of interest in the performance of Vreekamps management duties. Nevertheless, it has been decided to put another public prosecutor on the case, because attention to Vreekamp could be at the expense of attention to the substance of the case.
According to Smeets, the commotion distracts from the content. “She has not been discredited, she has been discredited by a racist hate account,” says Smeets. “But what its really about is that people are making calls under a live stream to hand out neck shots, to kill with bombs and to drive into someone with trucks. Thats what it has to be about
In total, the case will take about two weeks. Other suspects will speak this week and next week.