Since September, at least eleven people have been arrested in connection with or convicted of threatening outgoing Prime Minister Rutte. And today it became clear that last summer a man from Amsterdam was arrested, because he possibly wanted to commit an assassination attempt on Rutte.
All these events fit in with the trend that the number of registered threats against politicians has increased in recent years. In 2016, the Threatened Politicians (TBP) Team identified 65 criminal threats. In 2017 there were 90, the following year 362 and in 2019 there were 206.
‘Increase in corona time’
A complete figure for 2020 is not yet available, because reports must first be established whether they actually concern criminal threats. “You can already see that it has increased in times of corona,” says a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service The Hague based on the provisional figures for 2020. “Not an exponential increase, but an increase.”
This increase cannot be seen in isolation from the corona pandemic, says safety expert Jelle van Buuren. Because with all the lockdowns, the curfew, corona pass and many other drastic measures, he says it is a time of unprecedented social change. “Some people are very vocal about that and they whip each other up via social media.”
He refers to reports from, for example, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism. It also points to the great social unrest that has been fueled by the corona virus.
The vast majority of threats are expressed through social media. For example, Yavuz O. would have placed incendiary texts in public Telegram groups, as it became clear today about the Amsterdammer who, according to the Public Prosecution Service, has planned a possible assassination attempt on Rutte.
Shooters and Weapons
“I’m not looking for protesters. I’m looking for revolutionaries. Shooters/hitters/arms/violence. Everything allowed,” the suspect is said to have written in that app group. He would also have been looking for weapons and discussed his plans physically with others.
The big question in these kinds of cases is always: how serious was O.? Were they mainly tough words, which many suspects declare in court in such cases afterwards, or would he have added word to deed? This is difficult to say based on reports in the media, experts emphasize. “But I can imagine that the judge sees these statements as a threat,” says criminal law professor Hans de Doelder.
The more systematic the statements are, the more seriously the intelligence services take it, according to Van Buuren. “In this case it seems like something more than someone who posted something on social media in an angry mood. There may have been no concrete plans yet, but people were talking about it with others. But it remains difficult to say how serious it was .”
Ultimately, the judge will decide. Just like this week the police judge did in a case against the man who had threatened D66 leader Sigrid Kaag and outgoing minister Hugo de Jonge via Facebook. “I’m afraid to open the mail,” Kaag stated in court.
Kaag described the fears she says she has since the threat:
“A climate is created in which politicians must be permanently anxious”, Van Buuren refers to the words of Kaag. “Apart from the individual impact, that also begins to disrupt the democratic process.” According to him, this explains why judges seem to have imposed stricter sentences in these types of cases in recent years.
“In The Hague sessions where previously mainly community service orders were given, prison sentences are now imposed,” says the spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service in The Hague. He can only speak about the situation in that city. But professor De Doelder has the idea that in the rest of the country heavier sentences are also given when politicians are threatened than before. “It’s being taken more seriously now.”
Another possible Rutte threat, ‘politicians must be constantly afraid’
Source link Another possible Rutte threat, ‘politicians must be constantly afraid’