A group of 11 young men and teenagers appeared in court in Breda on Thursday for their role in the racial bullying a family of Liberian refugees in the village of Waspik, south-east of Rotterdam.
The youths, ranging in age from 14 to 22, are accused of discriminatory and intimidating behaviour, which led to the family fleeing the village in September 2007.
Two of the accused are appearing in an adult court, nine face a juvenile hearing behind closed doors.
The Liberian family moved out of the village, which has 5,000 inhabitants, after enduring 17 months of threatening behaviour. Eggs were thrown at their windows, they were subjected to racist chanting, fireworks were put through their letterbox and the children eventually became too scared to travel by bus to school.
An official report into events in the village last week concluded that everyone involved in the affair had failed.
Despite repeatedly contacting the police, town council and housing corporations, officials did not take any action to help the family, the report said.
The problems were seen as stemming from the family’s difficulties with integration rather than racist bullying and the behaviour of the youths went unchecked, the report said.
The report also said that the Liberian family was not the first to be driven from the village by racist behaviour. The court was due to give its verdict later on Thursday. One of the gang faces three months in jail.
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