Acquittal in first court session for demonstrating at Wervingsdagen

Today was the first court session against one of the three students who demonstrated as part of the University Rebellion group during the Wervingsdagen on March 15th this year. Cursor attended the court case today. The judge was clear in her verdict: the requisition and execution during which three students were arrested was disproportionate.

On March 15, 2022, a group from University Rebellion demonstrated against the presence of fossil fuel companies at Wervingsdagen (a recruitment event). During that demonstration there was soon a lot of police on campus and three students were arrested. The student in question was detained at the police station for six hours that day, was given a fine and the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) proceeded to prosecute. He successfully challenged this in court, as it turns out today. The verdict on this first student on trial today will set a precedent for one of the others, as was known in advance. The hearing was held in the Palace of Justice in Den Bosch.

After the speech of the public prosecutor and pleading by the student's lawyer, the student himself was given the last word. He used this to let the audience know what the experience was like for him: “Wervingsdagen organizes the TU/e career expo every year, including the one held last March. Wervingsdagen has a 'committee of recommendation', in this committee Marjan van Loon is a member, she is the president of Shell Netherlands. For me, this immediately indicates that the organization of the TU/e career expo does not take seriously the ethical considerations involved in such an event. Indeed, it seems strong to me that the top woman of a company like Shell would advise the organizers of the career expo against inviting the planet-wrecking fossil fuel industry.… So I am on trial here today, because I wanted to exercise my right to demonstrate at TU/e… I was quite upset about how I was treated at TU/e on the 15th. Namely, I was handcuffed by the police and a knee was put on my back, preventing me from breathing properly.”

The judge was quick with her verdict: "This case is clear to me and I release you from all prosecution", she ruled. “If you look at what it takes to curtail the right to protest, there must be significant reprehensible impediment. And that is not the issue here. There is no indication that anyone was hindered by the demonstration (from University Rebellion, ed.). Yes, maybe the people of Wervingsdagen didn't like that some students were demonstrating there. But that is not enough," said the judge. “The requisition was far too early and in a way that is disproportionate to what was going on there. The act of the authorities was a violation of article 11.” The public prosecutor can still appeal within two weeks.

Cursor will continue to follow the case and will also request responses from University Rebellion, the police and the Executive Board of TU/e to this verdict, next week.

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