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Judge says attack on gay couple didn't have any homophobic intent

The four attackers were sentenced to 160 hours of community service

2018-04-11

A judge has been unable to prove an attack on a gay couple had any homophobic intent.

Last year, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and his husband Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were walking hand-in-hand on their way home from a party in the town of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, when they were attacked by a group of four teenage boys.

The couple claim the attackers beat them up with bolt cutters and Ronnie lost four teeth after being beaten with a pair of bolt cutters, while Jasper suffered injuries to his chest, back and legs, RTL Nieuws reported.

Both victims also said their assailants said "homo" and "flikker" - the Dutch word for faggot - while attacking them.

At the time, police said they were investigating whether there was an anti-gay motive to the attack and originally arrested six men but later charged four of them - three of which were aged 17 and one 15.

On Monday (09.04.18), the men were found guilty of assault and sentenced to between 80 and 160 hours of community service as well as paying the victims financial compensation.

However, the judge has decided that although it was plausible that homophobic language was used during the attack, it did not prove whether there was any homophobic intent behind the attack.

He also said that there was no proof that bolt cutters had been used in the attack.

According to the NLTimes, the lawyer representing the victims was disappointed that the sentences didn't reflect a hate-crime motive.

He said: "My clients came across the boys and were called homo, faggot and dirty because they are visibly gay. They were chased and assaulted by these boys."

On Facebook, Jasper and Ronnie also expressed their own disappointment and wrote: "What are we supposed to find as a victim of the verdict?

"Well, we are only moderately satisfied because at the end of the day we are in the same position, but we are not satisfied with the extent of the punishment.

"How can you give 160 and 80 hours after what we've been through for a year? How can you compare this to what we are going through every day?

"And how can you compare this to what we might expect in the future? Besides, I've been with no teeth for 53 weeks!"

The couple are hoping to appeal against the court's decision. The brutal attack sparked outrage in The Netherlands, which became the first country in the world to legalise equal marriage back in 2001, and men across the country held hands in solidarity with the couple.