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Belgian climate activists to serve 1 month in prison for targeting Vermeer painting
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Two Belgian activists who targeted Johannes Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring" painting in a climate protest last week were sentenced Wednesday to two months in prison, with prosecutors saying their action "crossed a line" of acceptable protest.
Half of the sentence was suspended by a judge in The Hague, meaning the men will serve one month. A third suspect is due in court Friday. Their identities were not released, in line with Dutch privacy rules.
One man glued his head to glass protecting the 17th-century masterpiece at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague while another poured a can of thickened tomato soup over his head. The second man, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Just Stop Oil," then glued his hand to the wall next to the painting. A third man filmed the protest.
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The painting was not damaged, but the glass covering it had to be replaced and the protest caused other minor damage, prosecutors said. The painting was returned to its wall a day later.
In a statement, prosecutors in The Hague said that the activists' "goal, however important you consider it, does not justify the means."
The prosecutors had demanded four-month sentences, saying they wanted to send a message that "paintings hang in museums to be enjoyed, not exploited for activist ends. You keep your hands off them."
Earlier this month, climate protesters threw mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in a German museum and a similar protest happened in London, where protesters threw soup over Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" in the National Gallery. In both those cases, the paintings were not damaged.