Four teenagers facing court after attacking a gay couple walking hand in hand through in Arnhem earlier this year will not be charged with hate crimes, the public prosecution department said on Friday.
Instead the four, ranging in age from 14 to 16,will be charged with assault. ‘The investigation has not shown than discrimination or hatred of homosexuals was the reason behind the attack,’ the public prosecution department said in a statement.
‘Given the interest in the media and the public impression of what happened, the prosecutor will outline the reasoning during the trial,’ the statement said.
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.
The four teenagers will appear in court on December 19 and the hearing will take place behind closed doors. Originally five youths were arrested in connection with the case but one has been released without charge.
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