October 6th, 2011 | Last updated: December 14th, 2014
DutchAmsterdam.nl — The man who caused a panicked stampede among a crowd gathered at Amsterdam’s Dam Square for the national Remembrance Day commemorations in May, 2010 — injuring dozens of people — has been sentenced to 12 months in jail, six of which suspended.
The 40-year-old Gennaro P., known to the Dutch as the Damschreeuwer (Dam Screamer) is also prohibited from attending the annual Remembrance Day commemorations for a period of five years.
Remembrance Day commemorates all civilians and members of the armed forces of the Kingdom of the Netherlands who have died in wars or peacekeeping missions since the outbreak of World War II.
Until 1961, the commemoration only related to the Dutch victims of World War II.
On May 4, 2010, one minute into the 2 minutes of silence observed as part of the ceremony the man suddenly gave a 5-seconds-long, loud scream.
As bystanders tried to push away from the man a security fence fell over with a sharp, shot-like sound, creating panic further away in the 20.000-strong crowd.
The court considers it proven that there is a connection between the man’s scream and the panic that broke out at the Dam.
At the time police reported that 63 people had been injured in the stampede. Later that number was revised to 87. The injuries included scrapes, bruises and some broken bones.
Security during the commemoration was tight in part because members of the Royal Family were present. During Queen’s Day celebrations one year earlier — and four days before Remembrance Day — the Netherland’s popular queen and royal family were targeted in a premeditated attack that killed five people and left 13 people wounded.
Dam Screamer Not Sorry
Last April P. was arrested for theft. Since he is known to police as an habitual offender he was jailed for 90 days, preventing him from attending this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
While his lawyer initially said the man apologized for his actions, P. later declared to the media that he is not sorry for screaming, because “we live in a free country.”
Before the court case, which he did not attend, P. already declared that he would appeal any sentence.
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