Seven climate activists who called on followers to block the A12 motorway into The Hague city centre have been given community service sentences of between 30 and 60 hours for incitement.
The Hague court found seven of the eight activists on trial guilty of twice calling on people to take part in the blockade. The eighth was found not guilty.
The sentences are lower than the public prosecution department had called for.
“They deliberately posted messages on social media to mobilise as many people as possible to take part,” the court said in its rulings. “By doing so, they incited others to commit an offence.”
In addition, the blockade could have posed a threat to public safety because road users may have had to brake suddenly to avoid a collision, the court said.
While acknowledging the protest was out of concern for the environment, the seven had made the deliberate choice that “the aims they were striving for are more important than the rights and interests of others, including road safety,” the court said.
But the court also criticised the police for arresting the eight before the demonstration had taken place. Some were arrested at home in front of their partners and children and one was picked up outside their child’s school.
“The court has serious doubts about the need and the proportionality when it comes to the way the arrests were made,” the ruling said. “The court is taking this into account in sentencing.”
Two of the seven were also found guilty of painting on the side of the tunnel and told they had to pay The Hague city council some €9,000 towards the clean-up operation.
Extinction Rebellion has said it will appeal against the rulings.