Three teenagers face manslaughter charges because of the death of assistant referee Richard Nieuwenhuizen. The kids have to appear in court Thursday 6th of December for the first time.
A judge will decide if the detention of the suspects will be extended. The prosecutor already announced will then officially be charged with manslaughter, assault and public violence for alleged involvement in an incident last weekend after the match between youth teams form Buitenboys and Nieuw Sloten.
In the Dutch referee system it’s common that parents or club members officiate as a linesman on almost all amateur levels. Buitenboys linesman Nieuwenhuizen was flagging his son’s match and afterwards he was beaten up by three players from Nieuw Sloten. According to a reconstruction by newspaper “de Volkskrant” the AR had no visible wounds after the incident. He watched another match and at that moment he collapsed. He was hurried to the hospital where doctors said the situation was very critical.
One day later, Nieuwenhuizen died in the Flevo hospital in Almere. His club released the following tweet. A translation: “Our linesman Richard died at 17.30 surrouned by his family. The violence on the fields need to stop!”
Onze grensrechter Richard overleed om 17:30 uur in bijzijn van zijn familie. Dit geweld op de velden moet stoppen ! #stopzinloosgeweld
— SC Buitenboys (@Buitenboys) December 3, 2012
The night of the incident the club tried to contact the Dutch FA. Buitenboys chairman Marcel Oost told the media that they finally got someone on the line after 11pm. The person was angry at them for calling so late. On Monday the Dutch FA says on national tv it deeply regrets their first reaction. After talking with members of Buitenboys the Dutch FA cancelled all amateur matches for next weekend. Professional football players AND referees will have a minute of silence and will wear mourning arm bands.
Sunday at 17pm, a silent march will be held in Almere in remembrance of the linesman who died and it will end at his football club Buitenboys.
The club says today on Twitter it’s thankful from all the support from referees all over the world. I also got a lot of support messages from referees from all over the world. That’s why I released this tweet:
Refs all over the world send messages about the shocking news that a @buitenboys linesman died after attack: “Thoughts with his family”
— Jan ter Harmsel (@dutchreferee) December 4, 2012
After that I got in touch with the BBC to tell something about the reactions I got about this shocking news. I also told the reporters something about refereeing and incidents in Dutch football, a subject I wrote about before. There are 25 rough incidents each weekend during amateur matches in The Netherlands. That could be violence against players and referees.
You can listen to the interview on BBC Have Your Say. The topic was discussed from 28:11 in the audio file below.
Update Thusday December 6: The three suspects of the deadly attack on the linesman will remain in prison for at least the next fourteen days. That’s what a judge has decided today.
Update Friday December 7: A fourth person has been arrested as a suspect in the deadly attack of linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen. Read the full statement from the police (in Dutch). Police officers say there will maybe arrest more teenagers. Twenty policemen are working on this case now and they’ve questions dozens of witnesses.
Update Saturday December 8: A Dutch newspaper placed yesterday a photo of the incident with linesman Nieuwenhuizen (on ground, no shoe) on their front page.
Update Saturday December 8: Please join the #RESPECTforRichard campaign in tribute to the slain Dutch referee. Please share. Details here http://bit.ly/QN2b7x
We would be pleased if you share this message on Twitter or on Facebook. Thanks for your support.
Update Sunday December 9: Many people joined the silent march in #RESPECTforRichard (picture)
Update January: A judge decided that four people (16, 16, 17 and 50 years old) need to keep longer in prison. One kid of 15 was send home, so now seven persons are still in jail.
Update January 3: Bolivian assistant referee attacked too (video).
Update January 14: The team of the killed linesman Richard Nieuwenhuizen played Sunday for the first time after the incident. A player right before the match: “We are very happy to return to football, but we’re still standing somewhat confused on the field.”
Update 15 January: The three kids that were arrested from the beginning will appear in court on Monday 16th of January. Geert-Iem Roos, the lawyer of one of the kids, said last week that linesman Nieuwenhuizen “was looking for a confrontation” According to him some witnesses testified that the assistant referee provokingly said: “Hit me, just once is enough.” Roos received death threats after he told this on tv. The lawyer also talked about a forensic report which says that Nieuwenhuizen was kicked due to a kick on his head. Because the situation was very chaotic, he wants a reconstruction of it. The Dutch forensic authority doesn’t want to comment on the situation.
Update end of March: One of underaged suspects in the Nieuwenhuizen case has been released from prison. Another kid was released in December. Both are still a suspect. Five kids and one of their fathers is still in jail at the moment.
The suspects will have to go to court on Wednesday 29th of May. There were some pre-sessions and from now on the lawyers and the district attorney will start their plea.