Prosecutors apologise over mistaken identity at climate demo


The public prosecution office has apologised to seven people who were wrongfully accused of participating in a climate demonstration at Schiphol in November last year but does not rule out that more will follow.

The seven were sent a letter warning them that their presence constituted a crime in language described by one member of the group on Twitter as “intimidating”.

On November 5, military police arrested a number of climate activists who refused to leave the area reserved for private jets, some of whom refused to show documentation, the public prosecution office said.

Police then used face recognition software to scan photos taken at the site as well as images taken from social media, followed up by additional checks.

None of the methods used could prevent the seven people from being put on the site when they were all elsewhere, the public prosecution office admitted in a letter to those concerned.

“That things went wrong in this case is worrying and we offer our apologies. We are in talks with the military police to establish how this could have happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” it said.

Any personal data “relating to the demonstration” will also be removed, prosecution office said.

Some 168 people were sent warning letters following the arrests. Military police officials are now investigating how the identity of these people was ascertained.

“If more people turn out not to have been present at the demonstration, they will be contacted,” the public prosecution office said. The investigation is expected to last until the beginning of October.

More climate action

More climate protests are being planned from Saturday on the A12 near The Hague. Organisers Extiction Rebellion, who were also present at Schiphol, said they are expecting 10,000 to 15,000 people on the first day of what they say will be a “permanent” blockade.

In August, a court in The Hague sentenced seven members of Extiinction Rebellion to community services of 30 to 60 hours for incitement following a social media call to shut down the A12 into The Hague in 2022 and 2023.

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