Ombudsman slams detention of football fans

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A Dutch government watchdog says the detention of 800 football fans in April 2006 for several hours without water, food and toilets was not justified.

14 October 2008

THE HAGUE -- A Dutch government watchdog issued a report Tuesday criticising the detention of 800 football fans to prevent possible rioting after a match between traditional rivals Ajax and Feyenoord.

The National Ombudsman's report slammed police, prosecutors and municipal leaders for shackling the fans with plastic ties and detaining them without charge for hours at various locations, including a parking lot.

None of the detained fans were charged following the Dutch league playoff on 23 April 2006.

"Those who were arrested were treated in a way that was seriously substandard," ombudsman Alex Brenninkmeijer wrote. "They had to wait for hours in buses and other locations without toilets, water or food. After that, these 800 people were never told that they would not be charged."

The decision was taken by representatives from the police, prosecutor's office and Rotterdam municipality.

The fans - among them a handful who were throwing stones - had been waiting on a bridge outside Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium. Their presence prevented police from guiding Ajax fans toward Amsterdam-bound trains.

"The national ombudsman applauds the fact that public order was maintained, but he believes that the price paid for keeping the peace was too high," the report said.

Rotterdam mayor Ivo Opstelten rejected the criticism. He told national broadcaster NOS: "(The decision) was balanced and carefully considered."

Dutch police always pay close attention to Ajax-Feyenoord matches.

In March 1997, an Ajax fan was beaten to death in a battle between supporters of the two clubs in the town of Beverwijk. The rival hooligans had arranged to meet there to avoid heavy police presence at Ajax's stadium in Amsterdam.

[AP / Expatica]

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