Four teenagers face community service over attack on Arnhem gay couple

A gavel in a courtroom.
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Four teenagers appearing in court after attacking a gay couple walking hand in hand through Arnhem last April should be given community service sentences for assault, the public prosecution department said on Monday.

The public prosecutor said last year that teenagers, ranging in age at the time of the attack from 14 to 16, would not be charged with a hate crime because the investigation did not show than discrimination or hatred of homosexuals was the reason behind the attack.

‘The public prosecutor has taken into account that discriminatory words were used during the attack,’ the department statement said. ‘However, the assault began – so as it often does – with an exchange of words,’ the department statement said.

In addition, there is insufficient evidence that one of the men, who lost several teeth in the attack, was hit by a bolt cutter even though one of the youths had a bolt cutter with him, the public prosecutor said at Monday’s closed hearing.

The assault on Jasper and Ronnie Vernes-Sewratan led to a storm of protest in the Dutch media with calls for men to walk hand in hand as a sign of solidarity.

The leading Dutch gay rights organisation, the COC, called for the new coalition to take measures, including tougher prison sentences, to tackle the rising frequency of homophobic attacks.

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