Three men jailed for attacking police during banned coronavirus demonstration

Statue of justice.
Statue of justice.

Three men arrested during a banned January 2 anti-lockdown demonstration in Amsterdam have been jailed for attacking police when they were told to leave the area.

A 34-year-old man from Rotterdam, a 57-year-old man from Haarlem and a 60-year-old from Gouda were sentenced to two months in jail and community service in fast-track trials on Wednesday.

The men from Rotterdam and Haarlem were found guilty of hitting riot police in the face, while the Gouda man kicked a police officer in the crotch. All three told the court they had not come to riot.

Rotterdammer Arnoldus P told the court he had not seen any of the signs warning him to leave the area, or heard the police commands. He said he was wearing a bulletproof vest as a precaution, but he expected the demonstration to be peaceful.

Meanwhile, Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema has told councillors she has written to UN torture rapporteur Nils Melzer, who has come under fire for retweeting two pieces of demonstration footage, describing one as ‘one of the most disgusting scenes of police brutality I have seen since George Floyd’.

Melzer also called for legal action against the officers involved, apparently unaware that one film dated from March last year and that the policemen in question are already being prosecuted for using excessive violence.

Halsema said she had pointed out to Melzer that the police have legal powers to act during demonstrations.

‘I have drawn the rapporteur’s attention to the … importance of thorough and considered information and assured him of our willingness to cooperate if he decides to conduct an investigation.’ Halsema said. 

In a later interview with the Volkskrant, Melzer said he stood by his comments but admitted they had been provocative.

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