It could have been a firm legal statement against violence in public transport. But the case against the suspect of assaulting a bus driver, because he did not wear a mouth mask, will take some time.
He was already known to the Tilburg police as “the stroopwafel seller”. Then he called the residents and asked if they wanted to buy cakes from him. A woman wanted to, but after the transaction she was suddenly 40 euros lighter than agreed. “A switch trick,” the police think. He has stolen cakes from Albert Heijn, the suspect himself admits. Stealing did not happen according to him.
Not very startling so far. What promptly gives this case public weight to the court of Breda is allegation three for which the man will be tried on Thursday afternoon. The suspect is said to have assaulted a bus driver after she pointed out to him the rule of mouth caps in public transport.
He wouldn’t be the only one to have caused problems in public transport for that reason. OV-NL announces that there are currently about 145 mouth-masking-related incidents every week in the bus, train, tram and metro. That number is “stable”, the organization says, also with regard to violent incidents.
Albert Heijn can miss the stolen cookies. The robbed woman only wants her 40 euros back. But for the bus driver, the implications are more serious. She suffered injuries from the incident: someone hit her in the face several times. Each time the judge discusses the incident, the man on her right puts his arm around her.
It is clear to the prosecutor that the suspect is guilty: after all, it has been recorded on moving images. The judge also looked at two “CD-ROMs”. The first consists of street scenes on which a man gets on the bus. In the second video, on the inside of that bus, the same man beats the bus driver. According to the police, he is the “stroopwafel seller”, whom they would arrest three days later after the theft from the other woman.
But, the defense says, that is not the same person at all. “Do you recognize yourself in the images?”, The judge asks the suspect. “No, absolutely,” he replies. “That boy doesn’t look like me.” He said he was “staying” with his girlfriend that week. Far away from Dongen, where the bus driver was beaten.
His lawyer, Gertjan Mooren, would like to call the girlfriend as a witness. And Mrs Giesen, whose forty euros has been stolen, must also make a statement before the suspect can be found guilty. The judge considers the lawyer’s request to be of “defense interest” and honors it, although the moving images remain “as evidence”. But there will be no verdict on Thursday afternoon.
A firm legal statement against violence in public transport is therefore not forthcoming. But if this suspect is guilty, it is questionable whether he symbolizes the resistance against the mouth-caps policy in society. On October 1, the man in question was released from PI Middelburg, where he was imprisoned for three months for, please note, assault and theft. His period at large is not exactly running smoothly now. “If everything is proven,” the public prosecutor said at the end of the session, this man could well face “a very long prison sentence.”
The lawsuit continues in one to three month (s).