Two convicted of setting fire to Dutch COVID-19 test centre

Two people have been convicted of setting fire to a COVID-19 testing facility in the Netherlands earlier this year.

The centre — located in a fishing village near Urk — was torched in January during violent protests that followed the introduction of a nationwide curfew.

The test location was destroyed in the ensuing blaze, but no injuries were reported.

On Tuesday, a Dutch court convicted two men — a young man and a teenager — of arson.

A 21-year-old man was sentenced to one year in prison, with half the term suspended, while a 16-year-old boy was handed 180 days of youth detention, with 131 days suspended. The teenager was also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

The court said the pair had broken into the compound of the test location near Urk on January 23 and that the teenager set fire to a garbage container using a burning face mask. The suspects then piled more material onto the fire along with a flammable disinfectant.

Both “are guilty of a serious criminal offense,” the court said in a statement. “Beyond that, the destruction of the test location meant that coronavirus testing in Urk was impossible for a time.”

The vast majority of people in the Netherlands accepted and complied with the curfew and other lockdown measures imposed by the Dutch government but a vocal minority have protested against the restrictions.

On Monday, a court in the southeastern Netherlands found two men guilty of damaging another coronavirus test and treatment center in November by setting off powerful fireworks.

A 26-year-old man was sentenced to 120 days imprisonment with 109 days suspended and a 22-year-old man was given 120 days in youth detention, 110 days of which were suspended.

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