Fine for defamation in articles about GP

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A 58-year-old man was sentenced by the police court on Tuesday afternoon to pay a partly conditional fine of 800 euros for defamation in his articles about GP Robert-Jan van Rijn on the website CommonSenseTV.

The suspect wrote several articles on CommonSenseTV about the, in his view, erroneous death declaration that Van Rijn gave on the B form, after he had performed an inspection at the recently deceased father of the suspect. Van Rijn stated that the patient had died as a result of an infection with covid-19, but the son disagreed. After the patient’s family issued an ultimatum to Van Rijn to change the cause of death on the form, the son filed a report against Van Rijn, filed a disciplinary complaint and stated in the relevant documents on CommonSenseTV that Van Rijn was ‘a dangerous lunatic’ and that patients should stay away from him. He later modified these wordings. He also wrote that doctors would receive 30,000 euros for every time they report covid-19 as a cause of death. These articles then went viral on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, after which Van Rijn was confronted with a large number of (hate) reactions.

Wrong wording

According to the suspect, who himself conducted his defense during the hearing, he is solely responsible for the content of the articles he published on CommonSenseTV. He would not be responsible for the manner in which it is distributed via (social) media. He states that he was an investigative journalist and reported objectively on the events. However, he thinks it would have been better to omit some wording. During the hearing he persisted in the position that Van Rijn had entered an incorrect cause of death. He states that Van Rijn was ‘simply caught and assumed the role of victim’.

Dangerous madman

The police judge does not address the question of whether or not Van Rijn correctly filled in covid-19 – although she does note that the suspect is not a general practitioner himself. She argues that the manner in which the defendant published about the events was not the right route to complain about Van Rijn. And that with additions such as ‘a dangerous madman’ he knowingly said things about Van Rijn that he knew were incorrect. She points to the major consequences that his articles have had, partly because they have damaged the integrity of and confidence in the medical world. If you publish about something like that, it must be done in a very careful manner and that is not the case here, the police judge stated during the hearing.

fine

The police judge sentenced the suspect to a fine of 800 euros, of which 500 euros conditionally, with a probationary period of two years. In addition, the suspect must pay 500 euros in court costs.

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