Belgian climate activists given prison sentences for glue on artwork stunt

Belgian climate activists given prison sentences for glue on artwork stunt
Credit: Belga / XR Belgium

Two Belgian climate activists from the Just Stop Oil movement have been given two months in prison, one of which is probationary, by a court in the Hague. The activists were condemned for glueing themselves to Vermeer's famous painting of the Girl with a Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis museum last week.

The protest action was conducted in a similar fashion to the tomato soup thrown at Van Gogh’s 'Sunflowers' and the mashed potatoes on the glass protecting Claude Monet’s 'Grindstones.'

The activists in question are Bruges resident Wouter Mouton (45), who glued his head to the glass protecting the centuries-old painting, and Brussels resident Pieter G. (42), who filmed the incident.

Another individual involved was Dendermonden resident, David S. (45), who poured (what appears to be) tomato passata over Mouton after he was stuck to the artwork. Wouter and Pieter are sentenced to two months in prison, one of which was suspended.

David, however, has not appeared in court yet and is expected to do so on Friday as he waived the 'super fast law' in the Netherlands which allows someone to appear in court within three to six days in simple cases where the evidence is clear.

Mouton and G. had to go straight to prison from their pre-trial detention as a result, as the judge feared that "because of their activist purpose" they would soon repeat their action.

Mouton, who previously disrupted the finish of the Tour of Flanders by running onto the course, clarified that he knew the painting was behind glass. "100% certainty that no damage would occur was not there, but I wanted to do everything to avoid that."

The activist took full responsibility for his actions but assured that he had made sure beforehand that the painting itself would not be damaged, which was indeed the case.

However, the frame and back panel suffered damage, to a total of €2,000.

Just Stop Oil Belgium commented on the ruling: “Isn’t it ironic that climate activists who nonviolently oppose the mass slaughter of life on Earth are being condemned?”

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