The public prosecution department has admitted border police failed to properly identify 73 of the demonstrators who forced their way into the private jet section at Schiphol airport in November 2022.
“A substantial part of the research into identity was not carried out properly or can no longer be verified,” the department said in a statement on Friday.
Police arrested some 400 people during the protests but many refused to provide ID. Officials 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 in an effort to identify the protestors.
It later emerged at least seven people had been sent a letter warning them they faced prosecution, even though they could prove they were elsewhere at the time.
The department now says 90 people were correctly identified, 64 “could not be confirmed” and nine were identified wrongly. “The department regrets that a large number of identifications were not carried out carefully enough and the border police are taking steps to prevent this in the future,” the statement said.
Confirmed identities will remain in the police system but the others will be removed.
One of the people wrongly identified, Kirsten Verdel, told Dutch News that while she welcomes the prosecution department’s pledge to improve processes “it is still not clear to me how they are going to do this”.
Verdel was at a wedding at the time of the protest and told Dutch News she had never been to a climate demonstration.
“I still don’t know who identified me or how they did it,” she said. “I still don’t know what data banks are holding information about me. As far as I am concerned, the campaign continues.”
Court cases against four people who were properly identified are also being dropped because of the length of time it will take to bring the case to court, combined with the lack of court capacity and the “expected punishment”, the department said.
The cases against five others were dropped last summer.
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