THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A man who stood outside the home of a former Dutch foreign minister shouting and waving a flaming torch was sent to jail on Wednesday for six months, Dutch media reported .
Threats against Dutch politicians have increased in recent years amid polarization fueled by the pandemic and lockdown measures. Last week Prime Minister Mark Rutte called such bullying “completely unacceptable”.
The suspect, identified as Max van den B., was arrested two weeks ago outside the home of Sigrid Kaag, now deputy prime minister and finance minister of Rutte’s new ruling coalition.
Kaag was attending a debate in parliament during Wednesday’s hearing in a courtroom in The Hague and sent a written statement, she said on Twitter.
“Threats and intimidation of public figures are poison to our democratic rule of law,” Kaag said in his statement. “We must, with each other, protect our democratic values.”
National broadcaster NOS quoted the judge as saying Kaag “was not a random target. You had to have him because of his political role, because of his ideas that you don’t agree with. But this is not the right way. If you disagree with a politician’s ideas, vote for someone else or show your disapproval in a peaceful way.
A woman who broadcast the Jan. 5 incident live outside Kaag’s home was sentenced to 4 months in prison.
NOS quoted Van den B as saying in court, “I support the video and the torch 100%. I didn’t threaten anyone.
His lawyer had called for Van den B’s acquittal, saying he had not threatened Kaag.
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