Riot at Eritrean Event in The Hague, the Netherlands at the Opera conference center

Rotterdam Man Accused of Inciting Riot at Eritrean Event; Several to Remain Jailed

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(Picture: The aftermath of a riot in The Hague during the Eritrean event in the Netherlands at the Opera Conference Center. 18 Feb. 2024. Photo: REX/Shutterstock)

Police arrested a 28-year-old Rotterdam man accused of inciting people to commit violence ahead of the disorder and uproar in The Hague on Saturday. The suspect was one of several who distributed a video online suggesting people riotously disrupt an event for members of the Eritrean community, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said on Tuesday.

Investigators were alerted to the video on Thursday and arrested the man a day later. The rioting took place outside a belated New Year’s Eve [an] event at the Opera Conference Center on Fruitweg. Several police vehicles, personal cars, and a bus were set alight. Fire department vehicles were also battered, the windows at the events hall were smashed, and first responders were assaulted.

The number of injured police officers rose to 15 with the OM’s update on Tuesday. “Some rioters appeared to have blunt objects and stabbing weapons with them. Rocks were thrown, vandalism caused and vehicles set on fire,” the OM said. The situation was only brought under control after The Hague Mayor Jan van Zanen issued an emergency order authorizing the use of tear gas, and allowing police to stop anyone entering the area around Opera.

An examining magistrate heard the OM’s allegations about the 28-year-old suspect during an arraignment hearing on Monday. The magistrate ordered him to remain jailed for another 14 days while the investigation continues. Others may also be arrested for incitement, the OM cautioned.

On the night of the rioting, a total of 13 people were taken into custody. Four of them faced an arraignment hearing on Tuesday on allegations of public violence. All four were remanded into pre-trial detention for at least another 14 days.

They were identified as being between the ages of 19 and 36, and from the municipalities of Amsterdam, De Goorn, Maastricht, and Rosmalen. “Seven other suspects will be arraigned on Wednesday,” the OM stated. Investigators were granted the right to temporarily delay the arraignment of another suspect, which is typically only approved in urgent situations for a maximum of three days.

The thirteenth suspect was released from custody, but is still suspected of a criminal act. More arrests are possible from the night of the rioting, both police and the OM have said.

The investigatory television show, Opsporing Verzocht, will feature the rioting during its broadcast on Tuesday evening. “The police are asking witnesses to come forward and appealing to the public to share images from cameras, video doorbells, and dashcams,” police said on Tuesday. [BY NL TIMES]

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