30 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — A special police team set up to combat armed criminals operating at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has been ordered by a court not to indiscriminately stop and search people in public areas of the airport.
The court made its ruling on Wednesday as it freed a man, identified as Delano H., who was allegedly caught with a high-powered Glock 17 pistol by the police team in March 2003.
The court found that the arresting officers did not have any concrete suspicions for stopping and searching the suspect.
The specialist GBO squad, which comprises of officers drawn from the Marechaussee military police, was set up in September 2002 to tackle gangs who prey on drug couriers.
It was reported at the time that the gangs approach people they believe to be carrying drugs and demand they hand the stash over. Violence and firearms are often used to get the victim to comply.
The specialist GBO police team relied on a law designed to combat people carrying guns in the arrivals and departure halls of the airport.
But the suspects they search are almost always in the public area of the airport and therefore the police do not have the power to stop someone without reasonable suspicion, the court said.
The GBO is to hold emergency talks with the public prosecutor to find a legal basis for its activities, newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Friday.
The Marechaussee used another law on two occasions last year to carry out a mass search in selected portions of the airport. But to do that again, the airport has to be designated a “risk area” by the local mayor.
On 19 January this year, the GBO squad caught another man with a concealed handgun in the main hall at Schiphol. Police received a tip off that one of a group of four people sitting in a Burger King restaurant was carrying a gun. When police arrived on the scene, the suspect made a dash for it.
After a short pursuit, military police caught up with the man and a shot was fired as the suspect was arrested. Authorities confirmed that a military police officer fired a weapon during the arrest. No one was injured.
Schiphol is known as a major hub for the global drugs trade, with cocaine arriving on flights from the Caribbean for distribution throughout the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
Ecstasy produced in the Netherlands is smuggled primarily to neighbouring countries and the US.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news + airport security