Parents of convicted farmer (19) sold company due to nitrogen measures

The farmer was driving a tractor with a yellow trailer on the highway. Photo: Heitink Pressebureau

ZUTPHEN – The 19-year-old farmer, who was convicted on Wednesday for his behavior during the protests on the A1 near Strø, said he never intended to hurt or threaten officers. He had come to the motorway to demonstrate against the cabinet’s nitrogen measures. His lawyer explains that they affect him personally: “His parents sold their farm because of these measures, so he cannot take over that company.”

During the hearing, the young man reacted timidly to questions from the judge. He had driven a truckload of wood to the highway to demonstrate. The police would have given him permission to unload that wood so that a fire could be made with it.

After unloading the wood, the farmer first drove on, but then he drove back to the first group in a wrong way, saying that all the farmers wanted to get off the highway together. Because the highway was blocked by the peasants, he did not think that wrong driving was not a dangerous act.

Right on the highway

In the meantime, however, the police were looking for another farmer. A motorcycle officer was threatened with a wooden beam and the threat drove away. Police cars drove after that farmer.

A video shows the 19-year-old farmer turning his tractor with trailer to be able to drive in the right direction again. Just then a police car pulls up. The young farmer says that he saw that van very late and then he immediately stopped. However, the officer behind the wheel saw it as an attempt to drive the van off the road. He said he had to brake hard to avoid an accident.

The judge regularly asked the young farmer if he understood what he was accused of and if he realized that the situation was so dangerous. The man was unable to answer that, and mainly let his lawyer do the talking. He believes that it all happened to the farmer and that he cannot be blamed much.

A later incident, where a police bus is hit by the trailer for its tractor, was never intended that way, says the young man. He had to swerve to prevent his trailer ending up on the verge and was unaware that a police bus was driving alongside him.

Afraid of violent reaction police

The video that was shown shows that officers had previously driven alongside the tractor, trying to force it to stop by puncturing the tire. In his own words, the farmer was frightened by the violent reactions of the police, and he wanted to go home as soon as possible. According to him, the mood during the action was friendly until the police started blocking tractors. It did not occur to him or his drivers to stop at the moment he was on his way home.

The man’s lawyer emphasized in his plea that the nitrogen crisis affects his family personally. His parents have sold the farm, and the boyhood dream of taking over the company can no longer be realized.

Unnecessarily negative towards the police

The judge understands that the man wanted to demonstrate and says that this is also part of freedom of expression. “But that right is not unlimited, and it is not a license to commit crimes.”

The judge believes that the farmer should have stopped when the police made it clear to him and that his driving behavior created unnecessarily dangerous situations. Furthermore, she accuses him of ‘talking unnecessarily too negatively about the actions of the police’. “In doing so, he contributes to hardening the protests,” she says in her statement.

However, she takes into account a mild intellectual disability in that statement. As a result, she ultimately ends up with a six-day prison sentence, a 180-hour community service order and 300 euros in compensation to the officer who drove the police bus.

A 17-year-old farmer was sentenced to 40 hours of community service on Wednesday. Because he was detained for three days, 34 of them remain. The boy was arrested but returned to his father’s car. He locked the doors of that car and tried to drive away with the car. The boy drove backwards while an officer hung through the window of the car. The boy was beaten when he was arrested. The judge said it was appropriate given the situation.

Also see: Our live blog about the farmers’ protests

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