OM demands maximum punishment for ‘terror campaign that is unparalleled’ news

News feature | 29-06-2022 | 14:27

‘A terrorist campaign of a seriousness, scope and duration that is unparalleled in the Netherlands.’ With these words, the public prosecutor described the suspicions against a 37-year-old man from Bussum. He was charged this week with blackmailing and threatening the management of a fruit business from Hedel. According to the prosecution, he is also the mastermind behind a series of attacks with fireworks bombs and the shooting at the homes of (former) employees in the company. A prison sentence of 26 years and 7 months – maximum penalty – is appropriate and recommended for this.

The extortion of the fruit company, for which the 37-year-old man is being held responsible, started in 2019. In the spring of 2019, the 37-year-old suspect must have demanded 1.2 million euros from the management, stating that otherwise an employee would have been charged would be liquidated.

In October and November 2020, actual attacks followed with fireworks bombs on families and employees of the fruit company in Tiel, Breda, Rosmalen, Vlijmen, Kerkdriel and Hedel, where a farmhouse burned to the ground. In December, two attacks on a house in Hilversum were thwarted by the police. During this period, the management also received new threatening text messages demanding 2.5 million euros.

In May and June 2021, shelling followed at homes in Kerkdriel, Hedel, Velddriel and Waardenburg. On June 5, a house in Tiel was set on fire, after which four trustees were arrested for fresh offenses.

Impact

Arson, explosion and shelling of homes differ in severity and execution. The qualifications provided by the prosecution vary from attempted murder to arson, whether or not it is life-threatening for the residents.

In the indictment, the public prosecutor discussed in detail the impact of the incidents: ‘Hundreds of innocent families of employees in the fruit business have for years lived in fear and apprehension in their own home, a place where everyone wants to feel safe. . ‘
Police and public prosecutors were unable to dispel this fear: ‘Large-scale security campaigns, personal protection, night checks on the A2, blockade of Bommelerwaard by all possible means and arrests of suspects, all this has not been able to prevent the attacks in continuing. ‘

According to the prosecution, the main suspect also ruined the lives of the trustees: “The trustees appear to have been recruited rather carelessly from young boys who were deceived. They wanted money, and they were told all sorts of things once the extortion was successful. But in the bitter reality, the performers in most cases received nothing or a few paltry pennies’.

Villain

According to the prosecution, the behavior confirms the suspect’s reputation as a master swindler, as is also apparent from his criminal record.

“The suspect used the framework he himself created that the management of the company would have been involved in international drug trafficking and would now be blackmailed by a group of drug criminals who have their grip on them,” the public prosecutor said. The police investigation revealed nothing about the company’s involvement in drug trafficking. “But the successful promotion of this image has significantly increased the fear in society. It is precisely the organized drug criminals who instill a lot of fear with their accumulated power, organization and financial resources.”

In the prosecution’s view, the suspect was guilty of inciting 15 attacks, of which 9 are qualified as incitement to attempted murder and 1 as unsuccessful incitement to murder. In addition, the suspect was guilty of prolonged extortion for two periods.

In determining the sentence, the prosecution takes into account this high number of assaults and their seriousness. It also takes into account that he continued to organize attacks after his arrest in detention. The maximum penalty for this combination of offenses is 26 years and 7 months. The prosecution sees no reason to deviate from this and asks the court to impose this sentence.

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