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Court Cases

Six teens and adult jailed over death of Dutch linesman

A court near Amsterdam has sentenced six teenagers and a 51-year-old man to jail for attacking a linesman at an amateur football match. The official walked away after the December attack but died the next day.

The court in Lelystad found six teenagers and one adult should serve custodial sentences for their role in the death of 41-year-old linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen. The match official, whose son was playing for the other team, walked away from a severe beating at the December 2 amateur match but died in hospital the next day.

The father of one of the juveniles, a 51-year-old identified only as El-Hassan D. for legal reasons, was sentenced to a maximum of six years in jail - the charge sought by the prosecution. Five of the boys were given two-year sentences in juvenile detention centers, with six months suspended. Another youngster received a one-year sentence with two months suspended from Judge Anja van Holten.

The final defendant, who the court found to have fought only with an opposition player, not Nieuwenhuizen, was sentenced to 30 days in juvenile detention with 13 days suspended.

Nieuwenhuizen died of his injuries in hospital the day after the post-match violence. Witnesses said at the time that the boys were unhappy with an offside ruling in a game between Buitenboys Club in Almere and the defendants' Nieuw Sloten football club.

An expert witness for the defense had found that Nieuwenhuizen's carotid artery, which burst and caused his death, had a congenital defect. Medical experts speaking on behalf of the prosecution, however, told the court that they considered it "highly likely that the linesman died of kicks to the head and neck" sustained on December 2.

Roughly one million people in the Netherlands play amateur soccer, usually relying on volunteers to officiate the games.

msh/dr (AFP, dpa)

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