The protesters, who belong to the Just Stop Oil Belgium campaign group, were each given a two-month suspended prison sentence.
“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless seemingly destroyed before your eyes?” One of the men asked the onlookers in English. “Do you feel angry? Good. Where does that feel when you see the planet being destroyed in front of our eyes?”
Police officers stand guard outside the Mauritius Museum shortly after the accident on October 27, 2022. attributed to him: Phil Niguesanb/ANP/AFP/Getty Images
Visitors to the exhibition can be heard yelling “obscene” and “shame on you”.
“This painting is protected by glass, it’s okay,” the protester continued. “Vulnerable people in the Global South, they are not protected. The future of our children is not protected.”
In a press release announcing the verdict, prosecutors said they wanted to “send a signal” to the activists, adding: “Art hanging there for all, for all to enjoy, is smeared by (defendants) who felt their message took precedence over everything else.”
Prosecutors had initially requested a four-month term, with a two-month suspension, but the judge said she did not want her ruling to dissuade other people from demonstrating, according to Reuters.
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The two men went to trial through a swift ruling on charges of destruction and open violence against the painting. The third activist, who did not agree to speed up the trial, will appear in court on Friday. Prosecutors said the three were “jointly responsible” for the act.
In response to Wednesday’s court ruling, Just Stop Oil Belgium, which does not belong to Britain by the same name, told Reuters by email: “Isn’t it ironic that climate activists who peacefully oppose the mass slaughter of life on Earth are being condemned?”
Additional reporting from Reuters.
Top photo: Visitors look at Johannes Vermeer’s “The Girl with a Pearl Earring” at the Mauritius Museum in The Hague.
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