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The Netherlands

Dutch man convicted of insulting King Willem-Alexander

A 44-year-old man from Kampen, in the province of Overijssel in The Netherlands, was convicted of insulting King Willem-Alexander today. He used his Facebook page to insult King Willem-Alexander, by calling him a murderer, rapist and a thief. He also posted a doctored photo of an execution, where the head of one of the victims was replaced by King Willem-Alexander’s head.

He appeared in court in Zwolle, close to Kampen, where the judge found that the man had diminished the King’s dignity. “This behaviour is not acceptable in our society and it is justified that the suspect is punished for this”, the verdict reads.  He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, of which 16 are conditional. As the man already spent 14 days in custody before the verdict, he will not serve any more time. He is also on probation for the next two years, as it is likely he will be a repeat offender. He remains convinced that what he posted was allowed.

Insulting the King (or lèse-majesté), his spouse or the heir apparent and his spouse, or the regent, is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine. Convictions for insulting the King don’t happen too often. Between 2000 and 2012 five people were fined and three people were sentenced to jail. A total of 19 persons were indicted. In 2013, a man was sentenced to five months in jail after throwing a tealight holder at the Golden Coach on Prinsjesdag (“Little Princes’ Day), the day when the King addresses a joint session of the Dutch Senate and House of Representatives in the Hall of Knights in The Hague.

Sometimes they are convicted of other offences. For example, the makers of the smoke bomb which was thrown during the wedding of Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus in 1966, were convicted of four weeks imprisonment for violating the Fireworks Law.