Dutch teens on trial over linesman killing

Seven Dutch teenagers and the father of one of them went on trial yesterday charged with kicking to death an amateur football linesman.

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LELYSTAD, Netherlands // Seven Dutch teenagers and the father of one of them went on trial yesterday charged with kicking to death an amateur football linesman.

Richard Nieuwenhuizen, 41, was allegedly kicked several times in the head by angry youth players after an amateur game on December 2 last year. He died in hospital.

"All eight are suspected of being accomplices in Robert Nieuwenhuizen's manslaughter," the prosecutor, Joost Zeilstra, told the court. "He was kicked in the head, neck and body, resulting in death."

"This business has really affected the Netherlands because someone was beaten up on a football field, somewhere you normally go to have fun," said Jetty Bult, a prosecution spokeswoman.

Most of the accused teens' parents were in court. Journalists were only allowed to watch proceedings on a video screen next door because most of the defendants are so young. Nieuwenhuizen's widow and one of their sons arrived at the court arm-in-arm but declined to speak to journalists.

A pathologist testified for the defence that the victim may have died of other causes, including a spontaneous, fatal tear in his carotid artery in the neck, which delivers blood to the brain.

Christopher Milroy, a former chief forensic pathologist in Britain who is now a forensic pathology professor at Ottawa University in Canada, found an anomaly in the artery that, in rare cases, could prove fatal.

But experts disagreed on the likelihood that the anomaly, known about for only a few years and affecting one or two people in 100,000, was the cause of death.

The Dutch Forensic Institute, which conducted part of the autopsy, said it was "highly likely that the linesman died of kicks to the head and neck" during the assault.

The seven youths and the adult, identified only as El Hasan D, 51, are charged with manslaughter, public violence and brutality.

Six of the youths, who were 16 and 17 at the time, and El Hasan, have been held in custody pending the trial. The seventh teenager, a 15-year-old, was freed but faces similar charges.

All eight are connected to Nieuw Sloten football club, which had played Nieuwenhuizen's Buitenboys Club in Almere, near Amsterdam, when the attack occurred.

* Agence France-Presse