Zwolle – The treatment of intentionally insulting police officers normally takes less than twenty minutes at the police court. That was not the case on Friday when Dirk S. (49) from Nijeveen had to answer for this crime.
On December 1 last year, he abused two police officers during the farmers’ protest at the provincial government building. Together with an associate, he seized the opportunity to exchange ideas with an extremely lenient police judge on duty for 45 minutes. The words nitrogen, PAS detectors or the problems of farmers were not discussed. There was also hardly any mention of the insult. The duo wanted to talk about the rule of law and abuse of power by the police. This turned the boring courtroom into a true wappie theater, partly due to the massive audience. It took Dirk. S. eventually four hundred euros. If he does not pay, he will be behind bars for eight days.
About fifty people gather at the court before the start of the hearing. They want to support the farmers despite the fact that most of them are not farmers. The group consists mainly of conspiracy theorists and anti-government activists. The public interest is so great that part of the group does not fit in the courtroom. In a hurry, a second room is opened where they can follow the process via a video link. The audience in the courtroom is completely blown away. Everything that, in their eyes, is no good is crammed into a small room. Representatives of the government and the written press. The four journalists present are called bastards for an hour and are poked in the back as soon as they do not write down what Dirk S. and his partner Bram say.
When Dirk S. is allowed to take a seat in the suspect’s bench, he appears there with Bram. The magistrate wants to know why he is there and more importantly who he is. “I am Bram and we identify as people of flesh and blood.” Bram is not a lawyer or a suspect, nevertheless he thinks he has the right to stand there. He does not want to give his last name. The judge asks the usher whether he has identified himself. The messenger answers in the affirmative. The judge allows Bram Zonder Surname (BZA) to assist Dirk S. but adds that it is certainly not Bram’s right to speak during a staff trial.
A new problem immediately follows when the judge asks the two to sit down. Dirk S. and BZA wish to remain standing. They also have an explanation for that. The police judge finally nods in agreement and says: “Oh, you are there, but you are not.” The pair then argue that the summons is invalid. They also put it neatly on paper. The judge reads the plea carefully. It soon becomes clear to him that the pseudo-lawyer is mixing up the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The magistrate turns out not to be the worst and makes improvements to the plea. Bram wants the judge to dismiss the whole case because there is no ‘wet’ signature under the summons. Again, the judge is not bothered. A public prosecutor can dismiss if he decides not to handle a criminal case. A judge can annul a subpoena if it does not meet the formal requirements.
The public prosecutor then gets the floor and states that the summons does not need to be signed. He also makes it clear that Dirk S. did sign the deed of presentation when he received the summons. The magistrate agrees. This to the dissatisfaction of the suspect. “I’m still not part of this court, so basically I’m not there,” Dirk S.
Then the court will start with the substantive treatment. The first question whether the suspect is indeed Dirk S. turns out to be the next bottleneck. Dirk S. refuses to confirm and BZA starts again. According to him, the agents who have drawn up the official report against Dirk have not identified themselves. He also has a problem with the judge and prosecutor not doing this. “If you walk outside, you will see screens and you will know that my name is Melaard and that I am a police judge and am on duty this afternoon.”
It is insufficient for BZA. He states that officials must identify themselves and therefore wants to see the magistrate’s ID. The judge refuses this because he is not an investigating officer. BZA turns to the clerk and says she must record that he asked the judge for this the first time.
The public prosecutor then speaks. He suspects Dirk. S of the fact that during the farmer’s protest he called two riot police officers dirty, dirty typhus sufferers. Dirk S. walked around that day with the Frisian flag on a flagpole. The policemen informed him that an emergency order was in effect. That’s why he had to hand in the stick. S. indicated that he would put the stick in his car and continue to demonstrate with the flag tied around his body. The officers agreed and to their great surprise, a discussion ensued.
According to the officer, this happened at a time when many sympathizers around Dirk S. and the officers were filming, shouting and live streaming images on the internet. “That behavior is subversive and I notice that again this afternoon in court.” With the latter, the officer refers to the public present who regularly make themselves heard during the hearing, in particular when the judge or officer says something they do not like.
After being scolded, the riot police confer with their commander. He decides that an arrest unit should arrest Dirk S.. Dirk S. is picked off the street and taken away in a van. Dirk S. and BZA also have a lot to say about this. The officers who overpowered him had their faces covered and were in civilian clothes. They used a lot of force and tied S.’s arms together with tie-raps. They would have hit him in the van. Theatrically, Dirk S. grabs a chair and his story comes to a halt. BZA takes over from him and emphasizes that S. has been severely traumatized by the police violence. Bram says that at a certain point S. thought he wouldn’t survive and that the officers called for an ambulance. The ambulance nurse then noticed a few red spots on Dirk S.
The emergency order was also not valid according to BZA. It does not say that flagpoles were prohibited. He also again complains that the police and a public prosecutor have forced Dirk S. to identify himself. BZA also wants to see the judge’s ID proof again. “I’m Marinus Melaard and you have to make do with that,” is the dry answer from the judge. The clerk is summoned by BZA to entrust the second refusal to the report of the hearing.
When the Public Prosecution Service is given the floor, the officer states that the agents have acted lawfully and that they do not have to identify themselves immediately upon arrest. This may also be done at a later date. The emergency ordinance also prohibits all objects that are carried that can be used during confrontations with others or the police. A flagpole falls below it. Furthermore, everyone is obliged to follow the designation of agents in the area for which the regulation applies. The officer then explains that the law states that if someone refuses to identify themselves, fingerprints can be taken, among other things, to establish their identity.
BZA was subsequently annoyed because the Public Prosecution Service did not address the alleged police violence during the arrest. He again asks for the judge’s ID. If the judge refuses again, Bram wants to avenge the judge. The patient judge appears to have had enough of it. He makes it clear to BZA that it is a favor that he is allowed to speak. He is not a lawyer and cannot challenge a judge. He does want to know whether Dirk S. has filed a report or filed a complaint about the police brutality. That turns out not to be the case. However, the couple is planning to do so. They want the six agents to be prosecuted and demand compensation of sixteen thousand euros.
The police judge closes the investigation for the hearing. He points out to Dirk S. how and where he can complain about the police. The judge also explains that this criminal case is about Dirk S’s cursing of the officers. He underlines that demonstrating is a fundamental right, but that there are limits. “What is there left to de-escalate for the police if they are being called dirty, dirty typhus sufferers?” The magistrate therefore finds it legally and convincingly proven that Dirk S. is guilty. He imposes an unconditional fine of four hundred euros on him. If the fine is not paid, S. will go to prison for eight days.
Because the fine amount is less than five hundred euros, it is not easy to appeal. The leave system then applies. The Court of Appeal must give permission for the hearing of the appeal. Dirk S. announced on Telegram that he would appeal. He will then have to fill in a so-called grievance form. It must be substantiated why he does not agree with the conviction by the magistrate and why he wants to appeal.
Prior to the session against Dirk S., 53-year-old Hendrik V. from IJsselham was on trial. He was also detained during the farmer’s protest because he refused to leave with his slurry tank after officers ordered him to. He was given a conditional fine of EUR 500. This with a probationary period of two years.